New beach access path slated at Kahana Sunset
KAHANA – Plans to construct a public shoreline access path to the Internet-tagged “private” and “secluded” Keoni Nui Bay are underway at Kahana Sunset.
The vacation resort property located at 4909 Lower Honoapiilani Road submitted an application for a Community Plan Amendment early last year.
The 79-unit condominium complex is currently designated single-family, with R3-Residential zoning, and the request is for Hotel designation.
Kahana Sunset has been operating as a hotel since construction of the resort, noted Jacqueline Scheivel, the co-chair of the association’s long-range planning committee.
“The Kahana Sunset was approved for construction on a single-family (R-3 Zoned) parcel by a variance issued in 1968. Variances are not appropriate substitutes for permanent land use designations,” explained Jordan Hart of Chris Hart & Partners.
“The existing Kahana Sunset,” Hart continued, “has the ability to operate short-term rentals (Hotel Use) and has been doing so since original construction in 1971. The property has been paying Hotel/Resort rate real property tax for as long as association board members can recall. Hotel Zone is the correct fit for the existing structures, use and tax rate occurring at the property.”
The challenges from application to approval are costly and lengthy, including the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and review by the Maui Planning Commission, with recommendations sent to the Maui County Council for a decision.
“We are about to undergo the Planning Commission review of the Final Environmental Assessment. The Draft EA (with Special Management Area Use Permit, Shoreline Setback Variance, Community Plan Amendment and Change in Zoning Applications) was filed in February of 2013. A rough estimate of the remaining time to process the applications is approximately nine months,” Hart said.
The application included other work: “Demolish and reconstruct seawall, storm drainage upgrades/improvements, relocation of site amenities, new landscape plantings. Construct shoreline access path.”
Multiple studies were conducted, including Drainage and Engineering Reports, Soils Study, Wave Study, Shoreline Survey, Cultural Impact Assessment Report and an Archaeological Monitoring Plan.
Public review has been part of the process.
“We presented the Draft EA to the Maui Planning Commission in February of 2013 and conducted a meeting for the general public at Kahana Sunset in July of 2013,” Hart said.
The Draft EA was also filed with the State Office of Environmental Quality Control and is available to download at oeqc.doh.hawaii.gov/Shared%20Documents/Environmental_Notice/Archives/2010s/2013-02-08.pdf. A hard copy is also available at Lahaina Public Library.
Final review of the draft EA by the Maui Planning Commission was held on Tuesday, April 22, after deadline and before publication of the Lahaina News.
Hart predicted an outcome: “Based on comments received for the project and incorporated into the Final EA, it is expected that a Finding of No Significant Impact will be issued.”
With regard to the seawall, Hart said, “Work was properly permitted, initiated and completed. An unsafe situation was evolving near the shoreline where a portion of the seawall fronting an existing building was in jeopardy of becoming structurally unsound. The state Department of Land & Natural Resources, Office of Conservation & Coastal Lands issued a Site Plan Approval (permit), and the County of Maui Department of Planning issued a Special Management Area Emergency Permit for the authorization of the work.”
According to Hart, “Based on a preliminary survey of the shoreline and site visit by the State of Hawaii, structures may encroach into the state land. Any remaining structures encroaching into state land prior to the state Certification of the Shoreline will require a lease from the State of Hawaii.”
Further, the studies completed indicated that “the proposed project will not result in significant impacts to neighbors,” Hart added.
Scheivel is excited about the drainage upgrades planned as part of the overall project.
With improvements to the drainage system, the runoff from mauka properties, including Lower Honoapiilani and Highway 30, will be filtered so that hydrocarbons do not enter the bay, she said.
The only relocation of a site amenity is the beach/pool shower ten feet mauka.
Hart described the addition of the public beach access pathway: “The shoreline path will be located along the southern property boundary to provide access from Lower Honoapiilani Road to the ocean (approximately 250 feet). The width of the path is primarily five feet but is approximately three-and-a-half feet wide in one location due to existing utility infrastructure.”
Some neighbors had questions about the impact of the change in Community Plan designation from R3 Residential to Hotel that Hart answered: “The Maui Planning Commission has recommended that heights be restricted to existing conditions. The applicant accepts this recommendation. The maximum height of existing buildings is three stories. No expansion of the existing facility is being proposed,” he said.
The comment period remains open.
“Interested parties can contact Chris Hart & Partners Inc., the Kahana Sunset office, the County of Maui Department of Planning or the State Office of Environmental Quality Control,” Hart advised.