New & Noteworthy: Kihei Mall Setback; Ma`alaea Land for Sale; The Coqui's Quiet Cousin

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A Setback for Kihei Mega-Mall: The Land Use Commission has voted unanimously in favor of a finding that there is reasonable cause to believe that the plan of three companies to develop 88 acres of land in Kihei, Maui, into two shopping centers and 250 units of worker housing for the Wailea 670 planned resort, is not in keeping with what was approved when the LUC reclassified the land into the Urban land use district in 1995.

The decision, taken at its meeting on August 24, means that the landowners – Pi`ilani Promenade South, LLC, Pi`ilani Promenade North, LLC, and Honua`ula Partners, LLC – will need to show at a contested-case hearing how their proposal is, indeed, in compliance with the proposal before the LUC some 18 years ago, when the landowner was planning to develop the parcel for light-industry and commercial uses. Arguing to the contrary is the Maui Tomorrow Foundation, South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth, and Daniel Kanahele. Those three parties initiated the LUC’s action with a motion last May asking the LUC to issue a show-cause order to the landowners.

The current plan has received the blessing of Maui County. In July, the county Board of Appeals rejected a challenge from Maui Tomorrow to the grading permits that the Department of Public Works had issued for the project. As of press time, the organization had not decided whether to appeal that decision.

In addition, Maui Tomorrow has appealed the county planning director’s determination that the landowners are in compliance with the 1995 LUC order. A hearing officer is to be appointed later this month to consider the complaint.

Ma`alaea Land For Sale: For the last 18 years, the state has been paying dearly on a lease of an acre of land at Maui’s Ma`alaea Harbor for which it has no use. Lease rent, paid to landowner Don Williams, comes out to roughly $1,000 a day.

Now, Williams has put the land up for sale, with an asking price of $9.75 million.

For years, the state has been trying to get out of the lease through condemnation of the land. In 2010, Ed Underwood, administrator of the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (the lessee), told Environment Hawai`i that the state was close to completing the work needed to begin condemnation proceedings. Last month, he said the condemnation process was awaiting a final report on property boundaries from Maui County.

In the meantime, the site, now wrapped in a black, 12-foot-high wind screen, is being used as a staging area for work on the new terminal for the ferry to Lana`i and Moloka`i. In addition, a boat belonging to DOBOR is stored on the property.

The Coqui’s Quiet Cousin: Coqui frogs have received a lot of attention, thanks largely to the obnoxiously noisy mating calls of the male of that species. Flying under the radar has been its quieter relative, the greenhouse frog, Eleutherodactylus planirostris, although it, too, is on the state list of injurious species and consumes prodigious amounts of invertebrates, including, in all likelihood, a number of native insects.

In a recent article in Pacific Science, Christina Olson and Karen Beard, of Utah State University, and William C. Pitt, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services Division in Hilo, turn the spotlight on the greenhouse frog and the advantages – at least from the frog’s perspective – that come with its soft voice. For example, while both coqui and greenhouse frogs were introduced to Guam (in shipments of plants from Hawai`i), only the coqui was eradicated. Some people actually enjoy the greenhouse frog’s calls and have deliberately moved them into their gardens, the authors report.

The greenhouse frogs are distributed across a broad swath of the Hawaiian chain, with their presence having been reported on all islands except Moloka`i.

Dept. of Corrections: An item on this page last month discussed the latest developments in the disputed proposal for a subdivision in the South Kona ahupua`a of Waikaku`u. We misfired twice: the area involved is 72 acres (not 52, as we erroneously reported), and the site is on the slopes of Mauna Loa (not Mauna Kea). We apologize for the errors.

Volume 23, Number 4 — October 2012

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