UPDATE: KCA Questioned Necessity, Transparency of Project for Eight Years
7/8/20 STIPULATION AGREEMENT SEE:
Before hearing began, an agreement settlement was reached .
#kihei #saynotomegamall #overdevelopment
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE MEGA MALL? “They Stopped That A Long Time Ago. Right?” WRONG!!
No, it is still alive and back again. Concerned citizens can voice their concerns and ask questions during an online hearing scheduled for Wednesday, July 8th 9:00 AM by the Hawaii State Land Use Commission (HLCU) . However, if you want to participate you have to register beforehand.
Over the past eight years commencing with the initial 2012 HLUC, KCA has been actively engaged, participating in meetings and submitting testimony against the project with its unclear details, lack of transparency, and shifting identities. With a troubled start in 2012, when the Office of Planning found the project unclear in its representations, continuing into 2013 when the HLUC voted that the project was not in compliance, the series of disturbing changes has continued until today.
At the 2012 HLUC meeting KCA challenged the land owner, Sarofim Realty Advisors of Dallas, Texas, on their intentions for the property. The landowner seemed to hide behind their developer, Eclipse of Irvine, California, and the Maui County Planning Department and did not directly respond to questions.
Eclipse was later fired by Sarofim Realty Advisors.
The HLUC had refused to approve the project repeatedly over the past eight years for a variety of reasons. The description of that original 1995 request by then owners Kaonoulu Ranch was a light industrial park.
In 2005, seventy five acres of the land proposed for development was sold to Sarofim Realty, who are also owners of the Piilani Promenade, North and South. In 2011 Sarofim Realty sprung a huge retail mall project on the Kihei community with little fanfare. Many Kihei residents saw the KCA public meeting of July 8, 2012 – eight years ago to the day of this hearing – as the spark for the ongoing contentious battle. The original project was described as a light industrial park in 1995, but without proper legal process, the project facing the 2012 KCA meeting was completely revamped as major retail project, which was soon dubbed the Mega Mall by those in opposition. The opposing groups also identified that the mall project was not in compliance with the 1998 Kihei-Makena Community plan.
At that same KCA meeting then south Maui county council representative Don Couch and County Planner, Will Spence, supported the transformed project, describing it as legal and appropriate as a retail mall plan, with space for big box stores. This sparked a lengthy contentious battle. Mark Hyde, Kihei resident and retired lawyer, researched the background of the development, and finding holes and inconsistencies, provided the foundation for a lawsuit, which was supported by Maui Tomorrow and a newly formed advocacy group, South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth. Hyde, et al prevailed in the 2013 case brought before the HLUC. After reportedly spending millions of dollars spent in permitting and preliminary work, the developers were advised that their project was in violation of its original requirements. The HLCU voted overwhelmingly for the project to undergo further review, including traffic and cultural impacts.
However, this was not the end of the project’s existence. 2013 saw the Piilani developers propose a scaled down, mixed-use project, which included housing. This proposal was also rejected by the HLUC.
In continuation of the same concerns, there was a 2017 meeting with the HLUC where Sarofim Realty Advisors met with the critics of their project, the Maui Tomorrow Foundation represented by its president, Lucienne De Naie, a respected researcher, land conservationist and community activist; and South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth, led by Mark Hyde, president. It was at that meeting that opponents stated that the project was in violation of the Kihei-Makena Community Plan. The results of that conference was that the proposed mall plans were converted back to a light industrial park, and this time included a cultural preserve, which reportedly, is not guaranteed and could be abandoned in future versions of the park . Although a victory for the opposition, the issue is not completely settled. At that meeting the HLUC stated more studies on the impacts on the community in terms of traffic, environment and cultural needs should be done.
There was yet another community meeting in 2018, where Kihei residents, Native Hawaiian activists and South Maui State Representative Tina Wildberger opposed the project again.
In 2019, the HLUC facilitated another meeting between Sarofim Realty Advisors and its mall project detractors, South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth (SMCRG) and the Maui Tomorrow Foundation (MTF) and Kihei resident, David Kanahele. The meeting did not result in any settlement and in May 2020 the Pi’ilani Promenade project’s legal representative requested an evidentiary hearing to dismiss the case.
This 2020 request appears similar to the motion to stay in 2013, which was protested by the lawyer representing SMCRG, et al, Tom Pierce, who stated in 2013 that dismissing the case would prevent the commission from rendering a final judgement on the case, and cause legal confusion.
This Wednesday, July 8th, it will be the eight-year anniversary of that first momentous meeting. Please participate and voice your concerns but remember: you must register beforehand.
Submit written testimony by Tuesday, July 7th 9:00 AM
Reference: Item is 94-706 Kaonoulu Ranch
But no agreement could be reached so Sarofim is asking the HLUC to allow them to revert to 1995, without being clear what they propose specifically and want to build on the huge swath of land which will be right next the the high school, which is still under construction.
KCA will ask the eight Commissioners – one seat is vacant due to a lack of a cultural practitioner last we understood – led by Chair Dr. Jonathan Scheuer Likeke, to remain steadfast and to not dismiss the case brought forth by the intervenors and to not permit the landowners to build what they want.
The community and the commissioners have spent countless time and energy on this matter as the mainland corporation has tried numerous actions to build what is best for them, not is best for our community. Does anyone in South Maui think we need a Mega Mall? Another light industrial park next to the one that is full of vacancies? Or some other mystery project? Do we want to pave over all this island and add to the flooding issues along our coastline?
We urge you to participate right from your location Wednesday morning and state your opinion, BUT BE SURE TO REGISTER!!