UPDATE 12/31/14 This morning, as expected by many, a newly formed non profit group of home owners in Maui Lani , Maui Lani Neighbors, Inc (MLN). were blocked by a triumvirate composed of legal representation of both Maui County and State governments, joined with the Alexander and Baldwin Corporation, the last remaining of the original “big five,” and one of the largest private land owners in Hawaii. In Judge Cahill’s Circuit Court room, the justice granted the motion brought forth by the state to stop the legal action by MLN, leaving only one slight possibility that public nuisance can still be pursued.
At this point it seems the sports complex in the area will proceed building adjacent to this residential neighborhood. It is our understanding (& we have no legal knowledge), that basically the ruling said the groups action began too late.
Here is the professional report on the hearing in 1/1/15 Maui News.
Most of sports complex lawsuit rejected
January 1, 2015
WAILUKU – A judge Wednesday dismissed all claims except one brought by a group of Maui Lani homeowners who sued over development of the Central Maui Regional Sports Complex.
Second Circuit Judge Peter Cahill ruled that because the homeowners didn’t pursue their claims by appealing a Maui Planning Commission approval of a special use permit for the complex in March, the time had passed to bring the claims.
The remaining claim by homeowners alleges public nuisance based on bright lights, loud noise and heavy traffic from the 65-acre project that will include baseball, softball and soccer fields, hundreds of parking stalls and a large retention basin.
Construction began in September on the first phase of the project along Kuihelani Highway in Kahului and adjacent to three Maui Lani subdivisions.
In arguments to the court Wednesday, attorneys for the state, Maui County and Alexander & Baldwin said that the homeowners had an opportunity but didn’t present their claims when the matter was before the planning commission.
“Notice was given,” said attorney Cal Chipchase, representing Alexander & Baldwin. “There was an opportunity to intervene.”
Deputy Corporation Counsel Kristin Tarnstrom said that the homeowners’ lawsuit was an “attempt to go around the whole agency appeal process.”
Attorney Tom Pierce, representing the plaintiffs called Maui Lani Neighbors, argued that the time limit for homeowners to step in began not with the planning commission approval but when the construction started and “people can actually see it.”
“Once my clients were able to get into gear in order to recognize what was happening around them, they did fundraising, hired a lawyer,” he said.
By July, a cease-and-desist order was filed, he said.
“They were not sitting on their rights,” Pierce said. “They were doing everything in their power to take a very complex situation and respond to it.”
“The project is ongoing, millions of taxpayer dollars are spent, and it stops?” Cahill asked Pierce. “All of the arguments you are making today could have been made during that appeal had it been brought.
“There was an administrative agency action and it’s that action that gives these folks the right to challenge what was done,” Cahill said, referring to the planning commission approval of the special use permit. “Had there not been that action, then they would have a right to go directly to the court under the other statutes because they had no other form of relief they could seek.
“Once the county acted in this case, that triggered this exhaustion of remedy.”
The judge’s ruling followed two days of testimony this month.
“We believe the court should have heard the Maui Lani homeowners’ claims,” Pierce said. “So, we are very disappointed with this ruling, which denies us that opportunity. We will be considering our appeal options.”
In the lawsuit, Maui Lani Neighbors alleged that the state violated at least seven county and state regulations, including inadequate environmental assessments, failure to follow county planning document designations and a lack of authority by the Maui Planning Commission to grant the special use permit for the complex.
Cahill ruled after the state Land Use Commission last month declined to schedule a hearing or issue a declaratory order to address neighbors’ complaints about development of the complex. The judge had sent the plaintiffs to the Land Use Commission for adjudication following a hearing in October, when he denied the group’s request for a temporary injunction to stop construction until the commission considered the case.
The complex is part of a larger 545-acre Wai’ale master plan by Alexander & Baldwin Inc. The plan calls for the development of 2,250 homes, a middle school and other facilities. The LUC changed the land-use designation for the parcel from agricultural to urban in 2012, but the area remains agriculturally zoned by the county.
The sports complex site was later bought by the state, which received the special use permit from the Maui Planning Commission in March to begin construction.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.
UPDATE: 12/27/14 Maui Lani Neighbors Inc were in court this week, and expect possible decision before end of the year
11/20/14 When we have the time and opportunity, we try to explore important events beyond South Maui. Sometimes we can offer support as what happens in other areas can at potentially affect our area, or make us aware of what could possibly happen in ours .
This week we traveled to the MACC for an State Land Use Commission (LUC) meeting which focused on a few topics, but the major one concerned an attempt by a number of Maui Lani Homeowners living in the Legends subdivision which formed the non profit citizens group, Maui Lani Neighbors, Inc see http://www.central-maui-sports-complex.com/ to persuade the LUC for a declaratory order to halt construction of the State Project. The project, a series of various athletic fields on State (DLNR) land which was purchased from original land owner, A & B, has been championed by recently reelected Lt Governor Shan Tsutsui, and fully supported by the County Administration for this activity, citing a dire need for more athletic field for organized teams. The citizens group states when they purchased their homes, this was to be a traditional park, and offered several objections, seeming led by how close the edge of the facility is to their residential lots, overhead lights shining nightly on their homes, inadequate infrastructural to handle large volume of motor vehicle, resulting in their neighborhood streets to be jammed with traffic and parked cars.
However their strongest objection is that various laws and rules were broken by government to allow this to occur. While most of the dozen + testifiers were these neighbor, vast majority opposing the project, there were also a unrelated group giving their allowed 2 minute testimony also against the project due to cultural and environmental concerns.
The LUC concluded not to hear the groups objections.
See a professional report on the meeting on the front page 11/21/14 Maui News.