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County special use permit sought for Jaws zipline project

Haiku community meeting scheduled for Wednesday

Northshore Zipline Co. is seeking a special use permit for a nearly 13.9-acre zipline project in Haiku.

The project is separate from the company’s operation of what the county says is an unpermitted facility at 2065 Kauhikoa Road in Haiku. In July 2016, the Maui Planning Commission denied a special use permit for that project, which reportedly continues to operate despite racking up fines from the county.

Plans for the Jaws Zipline Operation call for eight ziplines, including a practice line; a 700-square-foot welcome/orientation center; portable restroom facilities; and a 30-space gravel parking lot. Vehicle access would be via Kai Huki Street, and the project itself would be located along Lower Ulumalu Road makai of Hana Highway.

A community informational meeting on the project has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Haiku Community Center, according to a letter to neighboring property owners from project consultant Chris Hart & Partners.

Under the company’s plans, a bus or van would transport guests to and from the facility’s parking lot and welcome center. There would be 2- to 3-foot-wide hiking trails between zipline starting and ending points. Guests would have the option of using two 4-foot-wide suspended cable bridges between 500 and 800 feet long to cross over Manawaiiao Gulch to the next zipline on foot.

“The bridges will provide expansive views mauka towards Haleakala and makai toward the Pacific Ocean,” the application says.

Tour groups are expected to consist of about 14 guests with two to three guides.

The zipline tours would be along the edges of Manawaiiao Gulch, along the western border of the property, the application says. There would be eight zipline runs varying in length from 260 to 1,750 feet and ranging in height from 10 to 140 feet above grade. The eight runs would need 20 poles to support and secure lines.

In the welcome center, merchandise would be offered for sale, including sunblock, sunglasses, logo clothing, water bottles, mementoes, photo packages, literature, nonalcoholic beverages and light snacks such as energy bars and trail mix.

The project would be on a portion of 333.6 acres that’s in agricultural use, primarily livestock on 170 acres, the project application says.

Another 131 acres are “unsuitable for active agriculture due to steep topography,” it says. On the remaining 32 acres, are a solar energy facility equipment building, a wind turbine, two farm dwellings and a barn.

The property owner is Stream Resources Inc. of Hood River, Ore.

The property’s state land use designation is agricultural and conservation. It’s set aside as agricultural in the Paia-Haiku Community Plan, and its county zoning is agricultural and interim.

The project will need approval from the Maui Planning Commission.

According to its website, Northshore Zipline’s Kauhikoa Road facility has seven ziplines, multiple aerial platforms, towers and tree-to-tree swinging suspension bridges, with “spectacular ocean, tree-top and Upcountry views throughout the tour” and a “leap of faith” attraction in which visitors “walk the plank and jump off a 40-foot tower.”

Derek Hoyte operates Northshore Zipline through his company, D&S Ventures. After the company’s special use permit application was denied in July 2016, it was told to stop operations immediately.

A call Monday afternoon to Northshore Zipline went to a answering machine.

Department of Planning Deputy Director Michele Chouteau McLean said Monday evening that she believes the company continues to operate its zipline tours at Kauhikoa Road.

County penalties against the business, which had racked up $565,000 in fines in July 2016, were continuing to be assessed, she said.

However, the company appealed its special use permit denial to 2nd Circuit Court and prevailed over a procedural issue in how the planning commission heard its application, McLean said.

The company’s application will go back before the commission in the next few months, she said. Then, depending on the panel’s decision, the county would consider how to pursue fines against the company.

* Brian Perry can be reached at bperry@mauinews.com.