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Controversy over burial sites haunts Maui Lani Center construction

May 17, 2012
The Maui Weekly

The Maui News - Construction of the Maui Lani Center has been ongoing for months. But the project across from Baldwin High School on Ka'ahumanu Avenue remains controversial, with a challenge pending in 2nd Circuit Court and unresolved concerns about Native Hawaiian burials.

Wailuku resident Clare Apana maintains that developers of the 13-acre project have not taken adequate steps to safeguard burials in sand dunes on the property.

Lloyd Sueda, the representative of center developer HRT Ltd., said the matter of burials is being addressed by the Maui/Lana'i Islands Burial Council.

Attorney Lance Collins, who represents Apana, said the issue has gone before the burial council, but construction hasn't stopped because findings of human burials on the property have been classified as "inadvertent" by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources' Division of Historic Preservation.

Apana has been working with the burial council and is moving ahead with her complaint in 2nd Circuit Court, Collins said. There, she is challenging a Maui Planning Commission finding of "no significant environmental impact" for the project.

Collins said Apana contends that the significance of burials on the property and other cultural impacts were inadequately addressed, and a full environmental impact statement should have been done. She may seek a civil trial.

Nearly a year ago, shopping center developer HRT announced that its anchor tenant would be Safeway, the largest grocery retailer in North America.

The Safeway store at the Maui Lani Center would be the supermarket chain's fourth on the Valley Isle. Other stores are located in Kahului, Lahaina and Kihei.



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