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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Liquor at Waimanalo chapel opposed again

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

The Waimanalo community has asked the liquor commission to hold off issuing a liquor license to a Makapu'u wedding chapel, which was won by default April 4, until "irregularities" stemming from that decision are investigated.

Public meeting

• What: Liquor Commission

• When: 4 p.m. Thursday

• Where: 411 Kapi'olani Blvd., Suite 600.

Wilson Ho, chairman of the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board, delivered the request in a letter Friday. The objections were based largely on the propriety of a ruling by the city corporation counsel that the license had to be granted because the Honolulu Liquor Commission was unable to act on the application.

Residents also said they didn't feel their views were given proper consideration.

"We're saying that there's some oddities going on, and we want it clarified," Ho said.

The commission will take up the license application again at its meeting this week, when it will decide whether to adopt the results of the April 4 hearing or grant the community's request.

The default decision came 16 months after Gloria Bridal withdrew a liquor license application for its Makapu'u chapel because of community opposition. At the time, the chapel owner said it would not try again nor apply to sell alcohol under Sea Life Park's license, an option open to the wedding business.

The Waimanalo community has said it opposes alcohol sales in such a remote area and has concerns about drunk driving. It also complained that the chapel was unsightly. The chapel owners had promised to improve the site with landscaping.

In a February hearing on the new request for a liquor license, company attorney Wayne Luke said his client had addressed the community's main concern about the appearance of the chapel. Business had suffered since Sept. 11, Luke said, and the company was hoping the liquor license would improve sales.

The license would allow couples to buy champagne for wedding toasts and permit Gloria Bridal to serve liquor at receptions. The facility caters primarily to couples from Japan and can accommodate a maximum of 49 people.

The Waimanalo community may get its wish this week, but a four-member quorum must be present at the hearing to add the request to the agenda and vote on it, said Katrina Souza, commission spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, the default decision stands, Souza said.

The request to hold off granting the license for 90 days stems from the April 4 public hearing, in which the liquor commission voted 2-1 to approve the application. But a majority of three is needed for a decision.

City deputy corporation counsel Paul Au has told the commission that under state law, if no action is taken, an application is automatically approved 15 days after the close of its public hearing, which was Friday. The Waimanalo community wants Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle to research the ruling.

The community will accept his opinion, Ho said.

Once the commission has made its final decision, the normal avenue for protest is through Circuit Court.

Gloria Bridal also operates a wedding chapel in Kapahulu, where a similar request for a liquor license was turned down in 1999 because of community opposition.

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com. or 234-5266.