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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, September 6, 2006

City says no to 180 vacation cabins near Ka Iwi Shoreline

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Writer

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The city rejected a developer's permit application to build vacation cabins on 181 acres across from Ka Iwi Shoreline, a project that drew opposition from Hawai'i Kai to Kailua.

Honolulu developer QRM was told that its plans were incomplete and failed to prove that the cabins would be an accessory use to outdoor recreation on the site, according to Henry Eng, director of the Department of Planning and Permitting.

"As proposed, the outdoor recreation activities appear accessory to the vacation cabins," Eng wrote in a letter Friday to QRM. "The outdoor recreational activities must be provided on-site as a principal use and must be clearly identified on the site plan."

The company was told it may resubmit its application if city concerns are addressed, Eng said.

QRM could not be reached for comment yesterday. An official with landowner Maunalua Associates Inc., of Walnut Creek, Calif., said he could not comment on the city's action. Maunalua President Rick Stephens said he is not involved in development plans, and that he had a copy of Eng's letter but had not reviewed it.

QRM in June announced its intention to build 180 cabins on two pieces of land, one above the Hawai'i Kai Golf Course and the other mauka of Kalaniana'ole Highway, across from the entrance to the hiking trail to Makapu'u Lighthouse. The 800-square-foot cabins would be grouped in clusters, with construction of a 7,500-square-foot recreation center where guests could make arrangements for "nearby golf, horseback riding, fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, archery, hiking excursions to Makapu'u Lighthouse and the nature areas around the Mau'uwai Recreation Center."

Plans also touted outdoor swimming, picnicking, tennis, volleyball, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseshoes and team sport facilities on-site.

Access to the 83-acre Mau'uwai parcel above the golf course would be via Mokuhanu Street in Kalama Valley, and to the 98-acre Queen's Rise section via Kalaniana'ole Highway.

Both parcels are zoned for preservation, which allows vacation cabins if they are shown to be a secondary use to outdoor recreation. The purpose of preservation zoning is to manage major open spaces and recreation and scenic lands, according to the city's land-use laws.

QRM's proposal met with objection at a June meeting of the Hawai'i Kai Neighborhood Board, and a month later at a town hall meeting with Mayor Mufi Hannemann. Since that June meeting, the Hawai'i Kai, Waimanalo and Kailua neighborhood boards all have opposed the developer's plans.

Residents yesterday cautiously hailed the city's decision to reject the application for a conditional-use permit, but understood that the developer may resubmit the plans.

"The city's decision to protect the coastline gives me new hope," said Gayle Carr of Hawai'i Kai. "After years of frustration, seeing Hawai'i Kai's open spaces chiseled away and countless trips to City Hall to testify, I now feel rewarded that it was not all in vain. The city does listen."

QRM's failure to identify mitigation measures to address community concerns raised at the June neighborhood board meeting was cited in the city's rejection notice. The developer also failed to prove that it had obtained a lease of at least five years from Maunalua Associates, the letter said, and did not provide others details such as target market, number of occupants per cabin, estimated length of stay for visitors and overall operations.

In addition, the application did not explain how the project complies with preservation zoning standards, according to the letter.

Elizabeth Reilly, founder of the Hawai'i Kai Hui, a grass-roots community watchdog group, questioned why the city's land-use laws require just a conditional-use permit, with no public hearings, for development on land that people believe is meant to be preserved.

"Whereas we are pleased that the city has not accepted the developer's application, we are concerned with what the city and state plan to do to preserve the Ka Iwi coast in perpetuity," Reilly said.

The Ka Iwi Shoreline, purchased with the help of federal money, is a state park preserve that runs from Sandy Beach to Makapu'u Lighthouse.

Reach Suzanne Roig at sroig@honoluluadvertiser.com.