Mall developers given until end of year to change plans

KAHULUI – Texas-based landowner Sarofim Realty Advisor and affiliate Honua’ula Partners will have until the end of the year to submit amended plans for their 700,000-square-foot development in Kihei.

Instead of building two large shopping centers as originally proposed, the new plan calls for a “mixed-use” development with business, commercial and residential uses, a representative for the project told The Maui News last week.

The state Land Use Commission voted unanimously Thursday not to proceed with its February ruling that found the original project – the Maui Outlets and Piilani Promenade shopping centers – to be in violation of three conditions imposed upon it when zoning reclassification was granted former landowners in 1995.

Commissioners granted the developer’s request to submit a motion by Dec. 31 to amend the plans, which will describe the project in detail, prepare for an environmental impact statement and give the public an opportunity to comment.

As a condition of granting the developer’s motion for more time, the commission ruled that no development or work would be allowed at the proposed site, whether by Sarofim or Honua’ula Partners, until the motion to amend has been filed. Project representatives agreed, promising “no development or work” on the property and that “the status quo” would be maintained.

Charlie Jencks, owner representative for the project, said that he was “very pleased” after the meeting.

The new concept will not be “exclusively retail” but instead include about 200 units of affordable and market-rate housing, as well as business and commercial uses, Jencks said. Sarofim officials will be working with the community in developing plans for the amended project, he added.

“With this decision, we are committed to moving forward in a partnership that includes the community, the county and the state. . . . We believe the project will be beneficial to the community,” said Robert Poynor, Sarofim’s vice president of development and construction, in a written statement.

Because the developers are amending their plans, proceeding with a decision and order to the February ruling would be “a waste of the commission’s time,” the developer’s attorney, Jonathan Steiner, said at the meeting.

“The Land Use Commission is not here to decide who is the winner or loser in this case like in a civil court proceeding,” Steiner said. “They are here to encourage and help develop the land in a responsible way.”

But the group of interveners questioned what message the commission was sending by granting the developer’s motion. They had filed a motion with the commission to finalize its February ruling and issue a written decision and order.

“The petitioners are the ones who had the choice here. They had a choice to seek to amend (the 1995 zoning) but they chose not to. . . . They took their chances. They lost, and now they’re just trying to pull their way back,” Tom Pierce, attorney for the interveners, told commissioners.

“This doesn’t send a message to landowners and developers that they need to look at the laws closely before they make these decisions,” he said. “It suggests that they can go ahead and take the chance as long as they’re willing to pony up the money.”

The interveners – Maui Tomorrow Foundation, South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth and Kihei resident Daniel Kanahele – said that a written decision and order would help provide clarity and closure for the Kihei community. The commission unanimously denied the interveners’ motion Thursday.

Maui Tomorrow Executive Director Irene Bowie said she was “disappointed” that the commission failed to issue a written decision and order.

“We’re glad that we prevailed in the original motion. The violations were found, but we are disappointed that they (commissioners) didn’t feel that it was important to provide clarity,” Bowie said. “We will be looking forward to the developer’s filing an amendment that will give the public some clarity on what the project will be.”

“We’ll all be watching closely,” she added.

“The commission is proceeding correctly,” Maui County Planning Director William Spence said after the meeting. “They found a violation, and the applicant is proposing to correct those violations.”

The county Department of Planning and state Office of Planning filed papers in support of granting the developers until Dec. 31 to amend their proposed project.

* Eileen Chao can be reached at