Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Tune in to the Grand Wailea Contested Case Hearings before the Maui Planning Commission
Intervenors stand up to protect the iwi kupuna of Maui
In 2018, the owners of the Grand Wailea Resort filed for permission from the Maui Planning Commission to remodel and expand the resort within a Special Management Area in Paeahu, Maui.
Three Native Hawaiian community groups - Mālama Kakanilua, Hoʻoponopono o Mākena and Pele Defense Fund - were granted a petition to intervene in the proceedings. The intervenors are taking on mega corporate hotel giant BRE-Iconic, which is part of the Blackstone group and controls many worldwide hotel properties including the Grand Wailea Resort. Between 1986 and 2009, the Department of Land and Natural Resources reported finding 344 burials on the Grand Wailea grounds in South Maui. These iwi kupuna (ancestral remains) were disturbed, crushed and "relocated" from the 40 acre parcel to make way for the mega luxury resort, and important cultural sites were also destroyed. The intervenors are fighting to stop further desecration that would happen if the Grand Wailea is allowed to remodel and expand.
The Maui Planning Commission appointed Maui attorney Linden Joesting as the Hearings Officer for the contested case. On May 7, Joesting issued an order denying that the proceedings were required to be open to the public, reaffirming an earlier decision that the proceedings move forward regardless of the COVID-19 emergency or the stay at home orders on the basis of needing to "get the administrative law work of the County done."
On May 19, media groups wrote to the hearings officer and the Chair of the Maui Planning Commission asking that the contested case be reopened to the public. But thereafter, another secret hearing occurred where the hearings officer made further rulings. Media organizations and journalists were left with no choice and lodged a Petition for Writ of Mandamus with the Hawai'i Supreme Court, seeking an order requiring the contested case proceedings be reopened to the public.
In July, the Hawai'i Supreme Court, in the case Disappeared News v. Maui Planning Commission, ordered the Maui Planning Commission to answer and explain why they closed the contested case proceedings to the press and public. Subsequently, the Maui Planning Commission reopened the hearings to the public, beginning this week.
The first session was held Tuesday, July 28th. In this hearing, Hearings Officer Joesting issued several summary judgments, prohibiting evidence on: shoreline certification issues or the location of the shoreline, environmental assessment issues in regard to the shoreline or perhaps entirely, future plans on traffic, water issues that do not pertain to meeting water system standards, and affordable housing.
The hearings now move on to the next phase, in which each side will be allotted 9.5 hours to present their cases. BRE will begin, starting on July 29th at 9 am. It is expected that the intervenors will present their witnesses on July 31st and August 3rd.
All media and the public is invited to watch these hearings on Zoom.
Upcoming Hearing Dates (all HST): *
07/29/2020 at 9:00 am
07/30/2020 at 8:30 am
07/31/2020 at 8:30 am
08/03/2020 at 10:00 am
Use this link to join the Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87465786755
Zoom Webinar ID: 874 6578 6755
* Is the Zoom link not working? Contact Clare Apana at 808-214-4411
These start times are correct as of 07/28.