Cultural adviser: Sand was being moved from stockpile

WAILUKU — Maui Lani Partners’ cultural adviser Friday said that work on a Maui Lani site June 26, consisted of moving sand that had been in a stockpile, therefore an archaeological monitor did not need to be present for the work.

Leslie Kuloloio, testifying in an evidentiary hearing on a motion for preliminary injunction in 2nd Circuit Court, countered testimony by at least two other witnesses in the case who said there was no monitor present when they witnessed and videotaped heavy equipment “moving sand and earth” at Maui Lani’s Phase IX site in Kahului, a violation of the state-approved archaeological monitoring plan. One witness testified that he couldn’t tell if the sand was fresh or not.

Kuloloio said that the work to move the sand into the stockpile “had been already monitored.”

Kuloloio was put on the stand by Maui Lani Partners, which is defending itself in a sand-mining lawsuit over work at one of its subdivision sites.

Clare H. Apana, Kaniloa Kamaunu and the group Malama Kakanilua filed a lawsuit July 24 in 2nd Circuit Court to halt earthmoving activities by Maui Lani Partners at the site until the company complies with the archaeological monitoring plan. The plaintiffs are also concerned that burials have been disturbed and desecrated and that further earthmoving will cause more harm. Malama Kakanilua is named after the famous 1776 battle that occurred in the sandhills of Central Maui, where many were buried.

Friday’s hearing was a continuation of several hearings on a motion for preliminary injunction to halt earthmoving work as the lawsuit continues to be adjudicated. Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza is presiding over the matter. Witness testimony concluded Friday afternoon in the preliminary injunction matter. Closing arguments are scheduled for 9 a.m., Sept. 22.

A motion to dismiss, raised by the defendants is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Sept. 15.

In his testimony Friday morning, Kuloloio explained that, on June 26, a contractor had been on the site moving sand already monitored. The sand was being placed in line with elevation stakes, he said.

But Lance Collins, the plaintiffs’ attorney, tried to get Kuloloio to admit that when he is not present, he is not be aware of the type of work going on at the site. Kuloloio responded that he roams the site he monitors “as much as possible.”

A partner with Maui Lani, Leiane Paci testified that, on June 26, contractors were moving a stockpile of sand from one portion of the property to another per Maui County’s Development Services Administration as part of best management practices.

Maui Lani Partners attorney Gregory Kugle asked if there was an archaeological monitor present June 26.

“No,” Paci replied.

“Why not? “ Kugle asked.

“The material we had been moving has been already monitored,” Paci said.

Paci said that if an injunction were in place halting all earthmoving work in Maui Lani as the lawsuit proceeds, it would cost Maui Lani Partners an estimated $92 million.

She added that a halt of the excavation work would impact work on Maui Lani Parkway as well as utility installation and work on a park.

Collins questioned Paci about her comments made during a Maui County Council Committee meeting in August about not connecting that her business partner, Bill Mills, is also part of HC&D, the company that did the excavation of sand from the Maui Lani site.

Paci testified Friday that Maui Lani Partners and HC&D are separate companies. She said that Mills is an investor with HC&D.

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

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