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Opponents of Revised Pi‘ilani Promenade Project Express Concerns

Development in North Kihei continues to be topic of debate.

August 26, 2014
Katherine Kama?ema?e Smith with contributions from Debra Lordan , Maui Weekly

At the Tuesday, Aug. 19, Kihei Community Association (KCA) meeting, Mark Hyde of South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth, Kahu Michael Lee of O'ahu, Daniel Kanahele and Sierra Club Vice Chair Lucienne DeNaie enumerated many of their concerns about the development of the Ka'ono'ulu Stream area, where plans call for a Kihei high school, the Pi'ilani Promenade shopping center, 250 affordable housing units and two light industrial parks. According to developer, none of the work being proposed will be anywhere near or in the gulch area.

Kanahele, South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth and Maui Tomorrow recently prevailed in a motion filed with the state Land Use Commission (LUC) to hold developers to conditions previously set in 1995 for the development of Ka'ono'ulu Ranch lands. The LUC found that current developers for the Pi'ilani Promenade shopping center had not followed those conditions, which included filing required annual progress reports, constructing a frontage road, and building light industrial (LI) projects.

The owners of Pi'ilani Promenade agreed to file a motion to amend the previously approved District Boundary Amendment issued for the property in 1994 and submitted the documents in December 2013. In addition, the ownership commissioned development of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project, which will start public review on Saturday, Aug. 23, when the Office of Environmental Quality Control will publish for public review and comment the Draft EIS for the Pi'ilani Promenade project. The public review period will run for 45 days, providing an opportunity for the public to submit comments on the Draft EIS.

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Mark Hyde from South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth expressed concerns with developing light industrial zoned lands into commercial shopping centers.

Hyde explained that LI zoning allows warehousing and craft-like industry, not commercial stores and malls.

He also clarified provisions in the Kihei-Makena Community Plan, "a legal document with the force of law," which restricts projects that contribute to urban sprawl.

"This automobile-centric mega mall does not conform to our community plan," Hyde said. According to county zoning, a Light Industrial district is the only area providing for mixed-use development, allowing employment and housing in close proximity.

The only future public hearing to be scheduled for the Pi'ilani Promenade project is a LUC hearing after developers submit their final Environmental Impact Study. Hyde said only a developer request for a zoning change would initiate a public hearing at the Planning Department.

This is unlikely, because other shopping centers on Maui County are built in LI zones.

In response to a question, Hyde said, "What goes on in Kahului and Lahaina is irrelevant here in Kihei. We have our own community plan."

When asked about his next step to oppose the Pi'ilani Promenade development, Hyde asked the Kihei community to join with his group and Maui Tomorrow to insist Maui County uphold guidelines in the Kihei-Makena Community Plan.

"There will be more litigation ahead, so please donate," said Hyde.

Hyde also placed responsibility squarely on the Maui County Planning Department and the mayor.

"The buck stops with the mayor, so petition the mayor on these issues," he said.

The audience applauded when he said, "I think we need a new planning director here in Maui."

When KCA member Bob Babson asked if the Ka'ono?ulu area would have its own well or draw from the Kihei supply, Hyde replied that he did not know.

According to the ownership, water for the project will be provided by a 1 million gallon water tank built and dedicated to the County of Maui with irrigation water provided by a brackish well and master-planned for reclaimed water use in the future, when available.

Then Lloyd Fischel from Ha'iku commented, " I believe it is our right to have the community plan upheld."

Next, Michael Lee, a Hawaiian practitioner and kahuna papakilo from O'ahu, spoke about the cultural sites in the Ka'ono'ulu streambed. Lee knows the paths of 3,000 stars, 261 constellations, and the "Kumu Lipo" creation chant, all of which are resource knowledge for Hawaiian sustainability practices.

Fishing and planting seasons are based on the moon and star calendar; Hawaiian farms, shrines, and gardens were placed based on star patterns. Lee uses the stars to locate landmark stones indicating springs, wind paths and flash flood zones, often overlooked by western archaeologists.

As a direct descendant of Kahunanui Hewahewa, the last high priest of the kapu system, Lee said his kuleana is to redeem sustainable practices passed down to him.

Lee, who is also on the faculty of Damien Memorial School in O'ahu, said that in times of drought, water in streams and ground springs stops running, but fresh water continues to run in deep lava tubes that become underwater springs many meters offshore. He believes fresh water can be collected and put back into the streams, where it will refresh the aquifer, irrigate the land and bring nutrients to the shore so limu can grow and fish can feed.

He studied Ka'ono'ulu Ahupua'a, locating heiau and many stone markers that show branches of the Kulanihako'i Stream and springs. He finds springs with the help of his 'aumakua and mo'o protectors of Maui, such as Kihawahine.

Lee strongly recommended that any building in Ka'ono'ulu area be done with permeable materials, so water reaches the land underneath. Gulches may be lined with endemic pili grass instead of concrete " hold soil in place and grow without irrigation," he said.

Lee said residents can "increase abundance without destroying the center;" or adapt Hawaiian sustainable practices that take care of nature the way nature takes care of itself.

KCA President Mike Moran announced that the Tuesday, Aug. 26, transfer of ownership at Maui Lu includes conversion to timeshare and a doubling of the number of residents. A public hearing on the Environmental Assessment Determination (EA) for the Kenolio Apartment complex--186 units with over 500 residents--will be held on Sept. 8. He applauded the response by Pacific West Communities Company to clean up eyesores on their vacant lot on South Kihei Road.

The next KCA meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 16, to review the state Department of Education's plans for Kihei's high school. The KCA Nominating Committee for 2015 will also be elected.

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