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South Lahaina residents oppose proposed campground facility

By Staff | Jul 23, 2015

LAHAINA – Blindsided by a June 19 letter from the Ho’omoana Foundation announcing a proposal for a campground facility off Hokiokio Place and the Lahaina Bypass, West Siders are joining forces to oppose the project situated at the gateway to historic Lahaina.

Lisa Darcy is the executive director of the charitable organization submitting applications to the Maui Planning Commission for a Land Use Commission Special Use Permit and Conditional Permit.

In the June correspondence to area residents, Darcy wrote, “Our camp will provide much needed commercial camping alternatives for West Maui visitors. More importantly, we will provide transitional housing for Maui residents alongside who are financially/emotionally disenfranchised.

“Onsite staff will provide employment, and the program for Maui residents will be goal-oriented, specifically designed to develop sustainability to transition into community housing.”

Both applications to the Planning Commission read that the proposed use for the facilities are for the: “1) recreational commercial camper, and 2) the transient population with farming project. The campground will serve a population group including disadvantaged/financially challenged homeless individuals.”

The 22.678-acre site is owned by Kauaula Land Company, LLC. Principals of the LLC are James Riley, Glenn Tremble, Peter K. Martin, Gary W. Dixon Trust, Kenneth K. Kurokawa, Beverly K. Kurokawa, Flying Dollar Cranberry Inc., Robert Stenner and Carol Hay.

The Ho’omoana Foundation, in submitting the applications, described its mission: “to provide a dignified bridge to cross for individuals who experience mental health challenges, so they have the opportunity to rebuild their professional and personal lives. Ho’omoana believes that having a safe place to live and to be employed are essential to regaining a higher quality of life.”

Directors of the nonprofit are Peter K. Martin, founder and president; Thomas D. Welch, vice president and treasurer; Rory Frampton, secretary; Dr. Jon Betwee; Ali Martin; and Josh Dean.

The project is wholly funded by a private donor.

The applicant proposes to develop a commercial campground in addition to a farm dwelling.

The first year, eight camping pods will be available, with the potential of growing to 26 pods for a maximum population of 80. A private water and wastewater system is part of the development’s infrastructure.

With a mix of commercial and local individuals using the facility, the plan is to “start slowly to ensure smooth growth,” according to the plans.

The Puamana Community Association, situated directly makai of the site, is one of the project’s closest neighbors.

Its president, Carl Verley, responded to Darcy’s announcement by writing: “Homeowners in Puamana are very concerned about the proposed Kauaula Campground that Ho’omoana Foundation is proposed for land mauka of Puamana that straddles Kauaula Stream. Many feel threatened by this proposed project, as it may: create an influx of potentially dangerous individuals into their neighborhood; reduce property values; create a viewscape that will not enhance tourism in the Lahaina area; create additional pollution in Kauaula Stream, with additional environment impacts on the shoreline at the mouth of the stream.”

Verley had a two-page list of questions that were answered by Darcy.

Ke’eaumoku Kapu and other kuleana land claimants live mauka of the property.

“Interesting this request is once again from the faint of heart that would do a camp for homelessness, and they are still in litigation with Kuleana trying to exile them from their lands go figure,” he wrote in an e-mail to Lahaina News.

“The area Mr. Martin wants to develop is within the same area adjacent to the State 201G fast-track Pu’unoa project they tried to do about 10-11 years ago but got denied by the county,” Kapu continued.

“We, through Kuleana Ku’ikahi LLC, advocated that these areas were rich with archeological sites… even SHPD (State Historic Preservation Division) had major concerns; recommended a 300-yard setback.”

“Aha Moku O Maui has never been approached, Kuleana Ku’ikahi has never been approached, and neither did the families of Kaua’ula for discussion. That being the case, we are totally against this proposed plan, for it will do more harm to these areas and the people that live there than good,” Kapu added point blank.

The Shark Pit Neighborhood Watch Group formed in 2012. Its e-mail site, sharkpitcrimewatch@gmail.com, is managed by Janet Spreiter.

Since posting the information on the proposed facility, Spreiter said, “Not a single positive response yet and a lot of outrage.”

A petition is also being circulated through ipetitions.com. The author of the petition is “De Lane.”

The opening paragraph reads, “We are asking all residents, business owners and parents of school children in the area of south Lahaina to sign a petition to compel Maui County to delay the approval of a homeless camp on the southern edge of Lahaina for at least one year, so that the county and community have had ample time to research and debate the impacts of such a drastic proposal.”

The recent posting has garnered over 71 comments and 189 signatures as of Monday morning (July 20).

Robert Bowlus of Paia was sarcastic in his testimony: “I think it is a wonderful idea to have a highly visible tent city shared by transients and vacationing campers looking to sleep under the street lights together, located on hot arid land bordered by two heavily traveled highways and a neglected animal refuge within convenient walking distance of no essential services, recreational sites or potential places of employment.”

Yolanda Dizon, a kuleana landowner in Kaua’ula, drives the road fronting the proposed project each day. She said the roadway is busy and dangerous for pedestrians.

Spreiter urged residents to attend the Maui Planning Commission public hearing on July 28 at 9 a.m. at the Planning Conference Room on the first floor of the Kalana Pakui Building at 250 South High St. in Wailuku.

Testimony is crucial, she said.

Written testimony may also be submitted to the Maui Planning Commission, 220 Main St., Wailuku, HI 96793, or presented in person at the public hearing.