WMPA in the News
Condo Project Ok'd
Intervention Assures Kaanapali Plans
won't hurt North Beach Dunes
Maui News. February 25th 2005.
A condo hotel and townhouse project that will put 700 units on
North Beach at Kaanapali was granted a special management area
permit that will allow construction to begin later this year,
but the public got significant concessions in a settlement
reached through mediation.
"We're very happy that the West Maui community will get some
benefits" said Sharyn Matin, President of the West
Maui Preservation Association (WMPA) that was the
intervener on the Intrawest development approved by the Maui
Planning Commission Tuesday.
Matin, who lives in the Mahana condominium located next door
to the project site, was particularly pleased that Intrawest
agreed to establish a management plan for the intact sand dune
that runs along the shoreline fronting the property and to
refrain from using pile driving during construction, which can
drive neighbors crazy. Last year, after the WMPA
intervened, the Starwood Vacation Ownership group also agreed
to a dunes preservation plan and not to use pile driving
during construction on another lot at North Beach.
Steve Sewall, director of development for Intrawest, said his
company wanted to work with the public. "We are a member of
the community wherever we go and West Maui is no different,"
he said. "We don't just build projects and sell them off and
leave. We stay and run them. We've always been that way in
looking what the community needs."
But Sewall also felt the county's intervention process needs
to be reviewed and revised to prevent "generic" petitions such
as the ones ranted against his firm. Commissioner Susan
Moikeha voiced similar concerns during the meeting and said
the intervention process "is being abused". The commission
will have a discussion next month on its policy on allowing
interventions in special management area filings.
Both the residents group and an individual resident filed to
intervene on the SMA permit application for the Intrawest
project, which normally would require a contested case hearing
on the project. But the parties agreed to mediation to resolve
questions and issues about the development plam. resulting in
the settlement agreement.
Issac Hall, who represented WMPA, said Thursday that
some of the comments made about the intervention process were
"wrong and contrary to state law".
"Intervention is supposed to be liberal," said Hall, citing
state law which established that interveners can advocate for
the public as long as they're amongst the injured. "I don't
think Steve Sewall understands the law and I don't think some
of the commissioners understand the law, either."
Hall said that had it been not for the interveners, a wetland
that previously was not recognized, would not have been
identified. The wetland will now be reviewed by the Army Corp
Attorney Charlie Fox, who has been involved with the North
Beach controversy since its inception years ago, also
intervened. He was concerned mostly about drainage plans.
Matin said conditions of the intervention also enlarged a
small public park , increased the shoreline setback to 150
feet and reduced building heights and masses.
In addition, Intrawest agreed to provide cash contributions:
$2.75M in traffic impact fees, $650,000 in increments to a
trust for projects that will benefit West Maui that could
include roads, hospitals or schools, and $100,000 to WMPA,
also for preservation efforts.
In the settlement with Fox, the firm agreed to donate $500,000
to the Lahainaluna High School Foundation. Sewall said that
$1.4M had already been contributed to the West Maui Resource
Center for part of its affordable housing requirement.
Prices for the 700 units - 624 condo hotel rooms and 76
townhouses - are expected to range from $500,000 to $2 Million
each said Sewall.
Along with the SMA permit, the commission granted Step 2
approval for the Planned Development, meaning that the project
will not need to undergo more public hearings. All that's left
is for an administrative review of final plans by the Planning
Department to make sure the conform with what was agreed to in
the SMA review.
Matin said officials with both Intrawest and Starwood Hotels,
which will manage the project, had been cooperative during
"The developers are finding it (the agreement) is an excellent
public relations item," she said. "They're finding it's being
positively received by residents."
Intrawest proposed two 12-story condo hotel towers near the
shoreline on the northernmost lot on North Beach, but reduced
the structure to 10 stories. The north cluster was also moved
farther away from the Mahana. Sewall said the condo hotel
rooms will be owned privately - there will be no "lockouts",
which can increase the number of units, and no time shares.
Sewall said he hopes construction on the south condo hotel can
begin in November.
Commissioner Diane Shepherd was pleased that the intervention
was so productive for the West Maui community and wished the
county had tougher policies in place to force more developers
to give back from the "enormous profits" they make.
"It takes a contested case to get them to cough up a portion
of the profits to help the community," said Shepherd. "There
should be an impact fee instead of relying on the public
filing a contested case."
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