Club Lanai site redevelopment gets panel OK

Lanai Resorts’ concept of developing a new resort and building large-lot and company housing at the old Club Lanai location recently was approved by the Lanai Community Plan Advisory Committee, despite some concerns by committee members.

But the committee still needs to do a more in-depth review of Lanai Resorts’ overall plans for the island’s east side, said committee Chairman Reynold “Butch” Gima on Monday. The committee could still vote against the plans.

“It’s not a done deal,” Gima said.

The panel is awaiting more plan details as well as the footprint of what would be the island’s third resort. The committee is expected to receive the new information in advance of its next meeting on June 12 and 13.

County Planning Director Will Spence said that the committee’s recommendation is one of many needed for Lanai Resorts to move forward with its plans. Spence attended the May 22 advisory committee meeting on Lanai, and he said that plans still need to be reviewed by the Lanai Planning Commission and the Maui County Council. Other land-use issues will be addressed by the state.

Nevertheless, Lanai Resorts’ plans are moving forward, Spence acknowledged when asked about the committee members’ action.

“They approved a concept. That was an important step,” he said.

Lanai Resorts officials could not be reached for comment.

So far, Gima said, company officials told the group that the resort is expected to be 15 acres and the large-lot housing development is expected to contain 50 parcels of 5 acres each. After listening to concerns from the committee about keeping the housing development from spreading, the company also proposed setting aside land around the proposed development so no further development could occur in the area, Gima said. No specific details were shared about the company housing, he added.

In January, Lanai Resorts presented the vision for the island’s future from new Lanai owner, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison. At that time, it included a bungalow-style hotel at the site of the day activity business, Club Lanai.

The billionaire and computer technology guru bought Lanai in 2012 from billionaire David Murdock. Now, Ellison owns about 98 percent of the island along with its two luxury resorts and golf courses and other assets.

The new resort was among other plans for the island announced earlier this year. Those included a desalination plant and a new airport runway. Residents reported that Lanai Resorts already has been sprucing up the the town and opening a community swimming pool.

Although the concept of the resort and housing on the east side of the island has technically been approved, Gima said Monday that he’ll ask for a hand vote of those that participated in the last meeting. That way, he’ll have a more accurate picture on how people voted, because the action was taken by a voice vote. Also, some panel members may have abstained.

A member of the committee made the motion to approve the concept presented by Lanai Resorts at the May 22 meeting, Gima said.

There are lingering concerns from the committee. Those include ensuring that the proposed housing, which could potentially be gentlemen’s estates, doesn’t get out of hand.

The group “didn’t want to turn that into another Kaanapali,” Gima said.

Committee member Ron McOmber opposed luxury housing on the island’s east end.

He said he has spoken to “rich people that have been down there” who expressed to him that it was too hot, windy, dusty and the ocean is “pilau,” or bad.

“We don’t need luxury homes down there. It’s going to screw up the local people when they use the shoreline.” McOmber added.

He also has concerns about roads and utilities in the area.

In another Lanai land-use matter, the Maui County Council last week passed on first reading bills granting Lanai Resorts’ requests for a district boundary amendment from agricultural to urban district and a change of zoning from agricultural to M-2 heavy industrial district for around 6 acres fronting Miki Road to expand the existing 14-acre Miki Basin heavy industrial area.

According to council records, the changes would allow the relocation of certain land uses such as office space, baseyards and repair facilities from a Lanai City site. The relocation would open space in Lanai City. The request for the changes had been pending before the council prior to Ellison’s purchase of the island.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at