Sand mining, export stopped at Maui Lani construction project

Maui News readers report sand movement over the weekend

The Honolulu-based concrete production company that has been moving sand from Central Maui to other places off-site, including Oahu, has stopped transporting sand, following a formal notice from Maui County regarding permit issues on Monday.

Honolulu Construction & Draying President Wade Wakayama said in an email Wednesday afternoon that no sand has been hauled out of a Maui Lani project since Monday. HC&D is reviewing the Maui County notice, he said.

Last week, Wakayama said HC&D’s grading activity at Maui Lani was in compliance with its current grading permit.

But county Department of Planning Director William Spence said last week that grading permits were issued properly, but the excavation and exporting of “high-quality sand for making concrete and other purposes meets the definition of a ‘resource extraction.’ ”

Resource extraction may require either a special or conditional use permit, he said.

While sand mining is not illegal, some community members are concerned about the resource being depleted and shipped off-island and archaeological damage.

Spence said in an email Wednesday that county officials had considered sending a warning letter via regular certified mail, but thought it would take too long. So, the county emailed the warnings Friday and hand-delivered them on Monday to Maui Lani Partners and HC&D.

Through a Uniform Information Practices Act request, The Maui News obtained the letter sent to the companies as well as emails between the county and HC&D.

The warning email was sent to Wakayama at 4:40 p.m. Friday, after the Planning Department found a correct email address for the company.

The letter sent via email and hand-delivered to the companies asks HC&D and Maui Lani to “correct any violations immediately upon receipt of this notice.”

The letter from John Rapacz, administrator of the Planning Department’s Zoning Administration and Enforcement Division, also said that resource extraction use is not permitted within the Maui Lani Project District. It added that fines could be assessed if violations occur.

Rapacz said in the email late Friday afternoon to HC&D that the notice of warning is dated May 1, but that allowed for U.S. Postal Service delivery.

In an email reply to Rapacz on Monday, Wakayama said he was not in the office for several days so he did not receive a letter other than the email.

“We’ve stopped any grading work as of today (Monday) until clarification, etc. can be determined,” he wrote.

Spence said that he has not heard from Maui Lani Partners.

The Maui News was unable to reach Maui Lani Partners officials for comment on Wednesday.

“We will monitor for compliance,” Spence said.

Wakayama told The Maui News that the company has updated the county on its on-site activities and would continue to work with the county to ensure HC&D’s work is carried out properly and in permit compliance.

“Any work on the site since (Monday) are for purposes of erosion and dust control as well as stabilization which are normal and important safety practices,” Wakayama said.

The Maui News readers reported over the weekend that they believed they saw sand moving from the Maui Lani site.

Spence said: “It’s disturbing to me that hauling may have taken place on Saturday because it sure seems all of the parties were already aware of the issue, but it illustrates our concern to get the warnings into their hands.”

The county’s investigation into the sand matter was triggered by a KHON2 news report investigation into grading and sand moving work in Central Maui, county officials said. The report said Maui Lani Partners has a permit to excavate at one of its sites. A map shows the land is adjacent to Maui Lani Parkway and west of The Dunes at Maui Lani Golf Course.

The news report said trucks transport the sand to a mound on land leased from Alexander & Baldwin. HC&D, formerly know as Ameron, is the lessee and through another permit moves sand from the site to a barge at Kahului Harbor, where it is shipped to the company’s plant on Oahu.

Maui Lani Partners has said all earth-moving activities are overseen by an archaeological monitor in accordance with the state-approved monitoring plan.

There have been reports of sign-waving rallies on Maui this week in opposition to sand mining.

Last week, Mayor Alan Arakawa sent a letter to the Maui County Council to consider a moratorium on sand mining, as he suggested in 2006.

Maui County spokesman Rod Antone said that officials in the mayor’s office, Corporation Counsel, Public Works and Planning departments, along with Council Member Bob Carroll, met Tuesday to see what could be done about sand mining.

Antone said Carroll volunteered his staff to come up with new legislation while the Planning Department enforces existing zoning rules and regulations.

“Both the mayor and the councilman are very passionate about this issue,” Antone said.

Carroll has been trying to stop sand mining since 2001.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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