Update on Wailea Parking Project

Order by judge puts a hold on Wailea project

December 17, 2010 – By CHRIS HAMILTON, Staff Writer
Article from: The Maui News
WAILUKU – Opponents of the Grand Wailea’s planned $250 million expansion persuaded 2nd Circuit Judge Joel August to issue a temporary stop-work order Thursday on a project to build 22 new parking stalls at the Wailea end of South Kihei Road.

Wailuku attorney Isaac Hall sought and received a temporary restraining order to halt the nonprofit Wailea Community Association’s construction of the public parking stalls.

In his order issued at 2 p.m. Thursday, August said the allegations in Hall’s request for a temporary restraining order could, if substantiated, “provide a basis for finding a causal nexus between the current construction of the beach access parking stalls . . . and the (special management area) permitting process for the proposed expansion of the Grand Wailea Hotel.”

Immediately after the judge issued his order, the community group’s volunteers and its contractor, Sonny Vick’s Paving, stopped work that had begun Monday.

The parking is intended for Keawakapu Beach, and it was initiated by the community association and Maui County in 2003 after the association raised concerns about pedestrian safety.

But Hall successfully argued to the judge that the project paid for by Pyramid Project Management, which is proposing the Grand Wailea expansion, is a way for the developer to “circumvent” a number of special management area permit conditions needed for the expansion project.

For example, the Grand Wailea had been ordered to increase parking at its property and elsewhere in the Wailea resort.

Hall pointed out that Pyramid is financing the $86,000 beach access project.

Although Keawakapu is not adjacent to the Grand Wailea, paying for the access was part of the Pyramid’s permit that the judge vacated on Sept. 15 after he decided that adjacent landowners were improperly denied their request for intervener status before the Maui Planning Commission.

Attorney B. Martin Luna, representing Pyramid, said that although it is true that construction of parking stalls was a condition of the hotel’s special management area permit, that permit has been vacated by August.

The judge’s action means, Luna pointed out, that “the permit and all conditions set forth in the permit are now void. Pyramid cannot be fulfilling a requirement that no longer exists.”

“In no way shape or form is the Grand Wailea expansion part of this,” Luna said.

Community Association General Manager Bud Pikrone also insisted there is no connection between the project to build beach-access stalls and the hotel’s expansion.

“I’m disappointed,” Pikrone said of the stop-work order. “We thought we were supporting the county since it’s their land and (it’s) doing good for the community. Long before there was any Grand Wailea expansion planned, back in 2003, we were working on this beach project.”

He said adding parking for people going to beaches like Keawakapu was a county project at first. But plans remained shelved because county money wasn’t available for the project.

“We offered to pay for it because the alternative was parking on a dangerous and dusty road shoulder,” Pikrone said. “And, now, unfortunately, some people don’t see the benefit and are fighting it for their own personal reasons. This whole thing is crazy.”

Neighbors have said the parking project is unnecessary and would result in fewer parking spaces. Now, motorists park haphazardly in the dirt on the mauka side of the road. The project would create a partly paved, partly grassed walkway, with some parallel parking, on the mauka side of the road for beach access. On the makai side, where people have parked on grass, the project would install parallel spaces. Some of the current parking spaces would be lost, but it’s unclear how many.

Pikrone said the community association has its own special management area permit for the beach parking project. Work was supposed to be done in 10 days.

Now, the next move will be for both sides of the dispute to meet with August at a hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

* Chris Hamilton can be reached at chamilton@mauinews.com.