WAILUKU - Two environmental and cultural groups have gone to court to challenge the Maui Planning Commission's approval of a final environmental impact statement for the Honua'ula project in South Maui.
In a lawsuit filed Friday in 2nd Circuit Court, the Sierra Club and Maui Unite allege the environmental study violates the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act by failing to adequately address impacts of the 670-acre development above Wailea Resort. The project is expected to include 1,400 housing units, an 18-hole golf course and clubhouse, a 12-mile network of trails and bike paths and a 40-acre preserve for native plants.
According to the lawsuit, the EIS inadequacies include:
* Failure to adequately address cultural and archaeological issues by relying on an incomplete archaeological inventory survey for the project.
* Failure to adequately discuss alternative designs to protect a 130-acre native plant/cultural preserve in the project.
* Failure to adequately address preservation of historic Kanaio-Kalama Park Road. Its route and width will be changed around the proposed golf course, according to the lawsuit.
* Failure to address impacts resulting from 250 off-site affordable housing units near the planned Piilani Promenade and Maui Outlet projects. Plans for the two shopping malls have "dramatically changed" the proposed use and impacts of the 88-acre site, according to the lawsuit.
Charlie Jencks, representative for project landowner Honua'ula Partners, said Monday that he had not seen the lawsuit and declined to comment. But he said Honua'ula Partners would respond to the lawsuit.
In addition to the Maui Planning Commission, the lawsuit names as defendants Maui County Planning Director Will Spence, the Maui County Department of Planning, Mayor Alan Arakawa and Maui County Public Works Director David Goode.
The county didn't respond to a request for comment Monday.
Attorney Tom Pierce is representing the Sierra Club, a national conservation organization with 700 members on Maui, and Maui Unite, which includes Maui cultural practitioners among its members.
The lawsuit says harm from the $1.2 billion project would include increased traffic, urban sprawl, loss of open space, loss of use of traditional trails and roads for exercise, recreational activities and cultural activities, loss of unique and sensitive habitat for threatened and endangered species and "irretrievable" loss of known archaeological and cultural resources.
According to the lawsuit, the southern end of the project includes more than 130 acres "considered to be one of the last remaining low-elevation native dryland forest habitats on Maui."
Although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends protection of at least 130 acres of the dryland forest and a Maui County ordinance requires a conservation easement of 130 acres, landowner Honua'ula Partners proposes to build a golf course and luxury view homes on about 100 acres of the native habitat, according to the lawsuit.
In July, the Maui Planning Commission voted to approve the final environmental impact statement for Honua'ula.
The lawsuit seeks to have that approval declared invalid. The lawsuit also seeks preliminary and injunctive relief to stop the development.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Honua'ula project. The Honua'ula project in South Maui is not in Wailea. Even though the project was formerly called "Wailea 670," it is not within the borders of Wailea's planned urban development area, according to Bud Pikrone, general manager of the Wailea Community Association. A headline and story published on Page A1 and continued on Page A4 on Tuesday were incorrect in including Honua'ula in the Wailea area.
The Maui News apologizes for the error.