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Hawaiian Cement looks to expand quarry by 45 acres

Maui Planning Commission gives green light, state LUC approval also needed

After hours of comparing reports and asking questions over drainage and future plans, the Maui Planning Commission Tuesday afternoon gave the go-ahead to Hawaiian Cement to increase the size of its quarry in Puunene by more than 45 acres.

Hawaiian Cement currently has a quarry and rock-crushing operation on approximately 226 acres that it wants to expand to nearly 272 acres on lands in the state and county agricultural districts. The move will expand the operational lifespan of the facility by 14 years. Hawaiian Cement is leasing the property from Alexander & Baldwin.

The commission approved the county special use permit with amended conditions. They also approved the state special permit with amended conditions, but the requested expansion still needs state Land Use Commission approval, Planning Director Michele McLean said after the meeting.

Conditions added to both permits are that Hawaiian Cement will comply with the reclamation plan by the landowner when the company is done with the quarry activities and also stabilize the soil after the use is completed.

Commissioner Kawika Freitas, one of two commissioners who voted against the approval, wanted Hawaiian Cement to have a more detailed plan for what it could do to restore the land area after it is done.

He wanted the company to go beyond one of the requirements, which will include the exposed area being backfilled with 2 feet of topsoil before proceeding to the next area to be dug.

“Here’s a business that is taking resources and not putting back,” Freitas said. “We taking 80 percent, 100 percent, only put back 20 percent. Our Hawaiian ancestors, they were real strong about understanding conservation and respecting things. This is one example.”

Freitas was also concerned about drainage from the project going into the nearby Kolaloa Gulch.

Project engineer Kirk Tanaka said that when it rains hard, the low spot in the quarry where rock is being dug will form a basin “and water has no way of getting out of this basin.”

“You will never get water that falls into the quarry site, get into the gulch,” Tanaka said.

He added that the basin will desilt the water, and the water will percolate or evaporate.

The commission voted 5-2 in favor, with Mel Hipolito Jr., Dale Thompson, Ashley Lindsey, Kimberly Thayer and William Greig in support.

Those opposed were Freitas and Chairwoman P. Denise La Costa.

Vice Chairwoman Kellie Pali abstained.

In an unrelated matter, the commission voted unanimously, 8-0 to approve amendments to a state Land Use Commission special permit for a Haiku business.

The amendments reflect an update in Jaws Country Store’s site plan to include after-the-fact structures for the neighborhood market operation.

The owners are still working on the after-the-fact permits with other county departments.

Even as commissioners approved the requests, they were concerned about allowing the owners to seek permits after they’d already built the structures.

“I do believe we have an obligation as commissioners moving forward to take a really much stronger stance with the after-the-fact kind of issues, because we know Maui County is plagued with so many after-the-fact type of structures,” Pali said. “But I also believe as we try to do this we want to work with the homeowners to get them into compliance.”

One of the owners, Tiare Roberson, said she thought the operation had been in compliance with its permit as the structures she set up are under 200 square feet and did not need a building permit.

But she later learned that her outdoor wood-burning pizza oven with a roof, two storage sheds, two gazebos and a restroom needed permits.

The violations were found when a neighbor complained about various issues including music at the property, which Roberson said happened once on a Friday night during a neighborhood-type gathering and families enjoying pizza.

Roberson said she stopped the music after the complaint and has always been in touch with the nearby residents, some of whom encouraged the evening gathering with music. She said only one neighbor had been filing the complaints.

Commissioners also added a condition to others from the Planning Department, setting permitted hours for nonamplified music at the property from 1 to 9 p.m.

As per the applicant’s request, the commission also granted a three-year permit time extension for continued commercial use in the state and county agricultural districts on around 2.4 acres of land in Haiku.

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

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