Planning panel reviews Kahana Sunset plans

The Kahana Sunset’s draft environmental assessment for a replacement seawall and drainage improvements underwent a review by the Maui Planning Commission on Tuesday.

The commission is the approving authority for the project’s environmental document, and Tuesday’s meeting was an opportunity for commissioners to ask questions and to seek more information to be included in the Kahana Sunset’s final environmental document.

The 79-unit, 4.5-acre resort built in 1971 requires approval of emergency seawall repairs done over the last few years, permits to demolish and rebuild a damaged 114-foot-long seawall and a replacement stairway about 30 feet inland of the existing structure.

The work would not only protect the property’s six buildings from the punishing surf of winter storms, it also would increase the beach area by more than 3,300 square feet in front of the resort at the water’s edge of Keonenui Bay in Napili, a project engineer said.

To proceed, the Kahana Sunset needs a change in zoning from residential to hotel district and a community plan amendment from single family to hotel and a variety of other government permits, including a special management area permit and a shoreline setback variance.

The resort’s buildings are two to three stories high and have been permitted, despite being in a residentially zoned area, under a variance granted in the 1970s. To keep the complex consistent with current zoning laws and to allow the special management area permit, the Kahana Sunset needs the higher-intensity hotel zoning, commission members were told.

Commission Chairman Kent Hiranaga asked consultants to study whether the project could get a special management area permit under a less-intensive zoning, such as apartment district.

The project also will provide improved public access to the beach, but no parking, said planning consultant Raymond Cabebe.

Commissioners asked the resort owners to explore in the final environmental assessment whether public parking could be provided. Other issues to be studied include:

* Where runoff water would enter the ocean from the Napili property and how it would be treated to reduce sediment.

* Whether, under the proposed hotel zoning or under a special management area permit condition, Kahana Sunset building heights could be limited to no more than three stories.

* Whether the resort’s showers would be available for public use.

The project will need to return to the commission for approval of a final environmental assessment and an anticipated finding of no significant environmental impact.

In other action, the commission approved special use permits for two short-term rental establishments in Haiku.

One was Bay Area resident John Sayre’s two-bedroom Haiku Nani business at 1640 W. Kuiaha Road, and the other was Steve and Jette Slater’s two-bedroom Maui Chalet short-term rental home at 45 E. Waipio Road. Both have extensive ongoing farm operations, commissioners were told.

Commissioners also approved a five-year time extension of a special use permit for the continued operation of the Haiku Makai Bed and Breakfast on 2.27 acres at 266 N. Holokai Road in Haiku. There were no reported complaints from neighbors.

In another matter, commission members approved a settlement for Lahaina resident Paul Laub’s failure to get shoreline setback and special management area permit approvals for work done on his property at 1003 Front St. The settlement was for $15,000 in fines and $11,000 for after-the-fact permit and other fees.

Laub’s attorney, John Rapacz, said that Laub was cited for repairs made to his property following a storm. Now, all the necessary permits are in hand, and Laub has agreed to pay the fines, he said.

The fines stem from unpermitted work done by Laub in 2000, according to his settlement with the county.

* Brian Perry can be reached at