(BIVN) – The Board of Appeals was immersed in the ongoing dispute over the future of Hakalau Point at a hearing in Hilo on Friday.
The Hakalau Point Preservation Association is appealing the Hawaii County planning director’s approval of a Special Management Area Minor Permit that was applied for by the Shropshire Group LLC. The association wants to keep the area in open space.
“We are here today seeking your review of a decision,” stated John Kaye, representing the Hakalau Point Preservation Association, in his opening statement, “which allows the developer – the Shropshire group – to proceed with plans to transform two abandoned warehouses – which were built in 1920, located next to a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean – into several commercial industrial ventures including the operations of a brewery, a distillery, a restaurant, a tasting room, a food manufacturing / processing facility, and living quarters for a watchman, and to allow the developer to proceed with this ambitious project without requiring a special area management use permit which is also called a major permit.”
“As part of the application process, the planning director also approved the developers’ request to change the boundary lines of his current two parcels at Hakalau Point, reducing the size of the parcel where these warehouse operations will take place, from its current five plus acres down to three acres, and then to expand the remaining parcel at Hakalau Point from the three acres to now more than five acres. This was also, we believe, inappropriate in this case,” Kaye said.
“When the developer is required to pursue a major permit, the public is invited to participate,” Kaye added. “They are told to share their concerns. They’re invited to provide input as part of the development process. In this case, the decision by the director to issue a minor permit has resulted in approval of a large-scale project that will impact the surrounding single-family residential neighborhood – which is a large single-family residential neighborhood by Hawaii standards – with increased traffic noise, alcohol use, safety risks, noxious smells, an increased strain on limited infrastructure, and other adverse impacts.”
“Clear error must be based based on evidence, not argument,” countered Steve Strauss, the attorney representing the Shropshire Group LLC. “The evidence that there are substantial ecological and environmental impact. The evidence that these are abandoned warehouse – which they are not abandoned warehouses. The evidence that is consistent with the community that existed long before these folks ever bought their property, including a hospital and other commercial uses on these and adjoining properties.”
“Shropshire group LLC doesn’t want anything different than every other applicant that comes in before the Planning Department, produces their application, and be treated like everybody else,” Strauss said, “but the appellant wants something different. They want you to treat it as if it’s something that it isn’t. An SMA major. It’s not. It’s an SMA minor. And that’s what you have to base your decision on, whether they clearly erred in granting an SMA minor for this proposed development.”