Maui Tomorrow’s Comments on Wailea 670 EIS

Maui Tomorrow foundation, Inc June 28, 2010
555 Church St Suite 5-A
Wailuku, HI 96793

PBR Hawaii
Attn: Tom Schnell, AICP
1001 Bishop Street, Suite 650
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

Comments on DRAFT EIS for proposed HONUA‘ULA Project

Maui Tomorrow Foundation, Inc appreciates the opportunity to offer comments on the Draft EIS (DEIS) for the Honua’ula/ Wailea 670 project. We request that the accepting agencies find this document premature and incomplete, and require the applicant to follow the EIS process as described in HRS Ch 343 and HAR 11-200—7, 16 and 17. Our specific comments are presented below.

SEGMENTATION OF ACTIONS:

HAR §11-200-7 Multiple or Phased Applicant or Agency Actions

A group of actions proposed by an agency or an applicant shall be treated as a single action when:

  • The component actions are phases or increments of a larger total undertaking;
  • An individual project is a necessary precedent for a larger project;
  • An individual project represents a commitment to a larger project;

Environmental review of the following actions proposed by the applicant and/ or required as a condition of rezoning by the Maui County Council must be included in the DEIS in order for it to be complete.

Merely mentioning or describing an action in the DEIS does not constitute evaluation of its environmental impacts as specified in HAR 11-200-17(E). The law makes it clear that individual actions, which are part of a larger project, cannot be segmented from the whole.

In Section 1.6 the DEIS outlines the scope of the document.

“SCOPE OF THIS EIS
This EIS covers potential impacts relating to Honua‘ula, “the Property” (TMK (2) 2-1-08:056 and (2) 2-1-08:71) and potential off-site improvements, including:

• Extending Pi‘ilani Highway from Wailea Ike Drive to Kaukahi Street. (TMK (2) 2-1-08: 999 (portion));

• Wastewater transmission line alignment for possible connection to the Makena Resort Wastewater Reclamation Facility (WWRF), which is located approximately one mile south of Honua‘ula (TMK (2) 2-1-08: 090 (portion)); (TMK (2) 2-1-08: 108 (portion);

• Off-site wells, storage tanks, and transmission lines (TMK (2) 2-2-02: 050 (portion)); (TMK (2) 2-2-02: 054 (portion)) (TMK (2) 2-1-08: 054 (portion)); (TMK (2) 2-1-08: 001 (portion)); and

• Possible expansion of the Maui Electric Company (MECO) electrical substation located within the Honua‘ula property (TMK (2)2-1-08: 043).”

We note below the status of required environmental review for these actions, as well as others not mentioned:

  1. Use of the state right-of-way for the Pi’ilani extension through the property to connect with Kaukahi Dr.

STATUS: This project is one of the “triggers” for the current DEIS which has some evaluation of drainage, traffic and other impacts connected with the new road, but other essential information is not provided.

It does not appear from the AIS that the proposed corridor has had specific archaeological review, in the past five years. In fact, of the 7 cultural sites originally located along the Piilani extension corridor in a 1972 survey, only 4 have been relocated by the present project. It is not discussed whether any portion of the Piilani corridor is part of the endangered Blackburn moth habitat.

The DEIS should also supply specific agreements the developers have with the State of Hawaii DOT for use of the right of way, to insure a transparent process. Was the state compensated for the valuable right of way land?

Will the Piilani Right of way remain public land, or be considered one of the project’s “private roads.” What agreements does Honuaula LLC have with Upupalakua Ranch for future shared use of the majority of the right of way still under Ranch ownership? None of these topics are included in the Draft EIS. The DEIS should also indicate if any federal funds were involved in acquisition of the state right of way for the Piilani extension, and if a federal EIS process would be triggered.

2. Wastewater transmission line alignment for possible connection to the Mäkena Resort Wastewater Reclamation Facility

STATUS: Botanical survey reportedly done of various routes. No map or report included, and no mitigations proposed. No map or report of archaeological survey of pipeline route in Makena Resort area. No discussion of impacts to drainage features, air or water quality or other natural features or resources. No discussion of secondary or cumulative impacts. No discussion of impacts to wastewater availability for present or future residences or businesses in Makena Resort or Makena village, or to irrigation requirements for Makena golf course. No discussion of social implications such as homeowner’s wastewater fees.

  1. Off-site wells, storage tanks, and transmission lines

STATUS: Discussion of hydrology of off-site well area and maps of well, tank and transmission line sites included in DEIS. No flora or fauna survey, archaeological survey, no discussion of impacts to drainage features, air or water quality or other natural features or resources. No discussion of secondary or cumulative impacts. No discussion of impacts increased storage and transmission capacity may have on present or future irrigation well owners in the Wailea/South Maui area. No discussion of social implications, such as homeowner’s water fees.

Tanks and lines for the offsite potable/non potable system are located in the Upcountry Community Planning area, The Upcountry Community Plan has policies which permit such structures only if the water is intended for use in the Upcountry Planning area. Honua’ula is located in the Kihei-Makena plan area. This lack of compliance with the Upcountry Community Plan is NOT discussed in the EIS.

4. Possible expansion of the Maui Electric Company (MECO) electrical substation located within the Honua‘ula property

STATUS: Map and brief discussion provided in DEIS, but no analyses of impacts to drainage features, air or water quality or other natural features or resources. No discussion of hazard risks from pollutants, secondary or cumulative impacts. No discussion of impacts increased electrical transmission capacity may have on plans for future projects such as the Auwahi windfarm transmission line or a proposed pump storage project being discussed for south Kihei area. No discussion of social implications, such as effect on homeowner’s electric fees.

  1. Construction of 250 affordable units and other improvements offsite at Kaonoulu Light industrial area to satisfy a portion of the project’s affordable housing requirements.

STATUS: DEIS provides a brief description and conceptual map of the 13 acre affordable housing project site in the TMP report (Appendix M). It is not discussed whether separate environmental review has been done for the property. If this has been done, no summary is provided in the DEIS. Only analyses provided is of traffic impacts- during construction and post construction. There are no analyses of energy demand, impacts to cultural sites, flora and fauna, drainage, air or water quality or other natural features or resources. No discussion of hazard risks, demands upon public water, wastewater and solid waste disposal facilities, public safety services, secondary or cumulative impacts.

  1. Use of State of Hawaii right-of-way way for the widening of Pi’ilani Hwy between Kilohana and Wailea Ike Dr.and Wailea Ike/Piilani Hwy intersection improvements.

STATUS: Final EA accepted January of 2010 for Wailea Ike/Piilani Intersection improvements.

Regarding the Piilani widening project, according to the DEIS: “State DOT is currently reviewing the draft EA before notice of the draft EA is published in the OEQC’s The Environmental Notice and the public comment period commences. A Special Area Management Permit application is also being processed.“

Neither document is provided as an appendix to the DEIS, nor is a summary of environmental impacts evaluated included. Only a summary of traffic impacts addressed by the projects is included.

  1. Onsite Wastewater Treatment Facility

STATUS: No mention is made regarding the assessment of potential impacts from an on-site wastewater reclamation facility, even though the applicant has stated that its’ possible development is a trigger for this DEIS.

As noted above, no detailed assessment is mentioned or offered for the Makena Resort WRF, even though this facility will become part of the project if Honua’ula connects to it. This is the applicant’s preferred option, yet no detailed analysis is offered and no analysis of potential impacts and mitigation measures is provided. Authorization from Makena Wastewater Corporation for this option has not been obtained.

It is also noted that the DEIS states under the listed “triggers” for the project’s EIS;

“In addition, creation of Honua’ula may involve or impact state and/or County lands or funds relating to infrastructure improvements for public facilities, roadways, water, sewer, utility, drainage, or other facilities. While the specific nature of each improvement is not known at this time, this EIS is intended to address all current and future instances involving the use of State and/or County lands and/or funds relating to Honua’ula.” (Emphasis added).

Under what future instances might the proposed action utilize public monies? This must be disclosed and included in the assessment of potential impacts relative to its use.

If the “specific nature” of a project action that may involve State and/or County land and/or funds is not known at this time, it is premature to submit a DEIS. A DEIS must include consideration of all phases of the action and consideration of all consequences on the environment (11-200-17 (I) HAR]. Again, the EIS must provide the information necessary to permit an evaluation of potential environmental impacts. (11-200-17(E) HAR].

CONCLUSION:
DEIS APPLICATION IS INCOMPLETE AND PREMATURE

Accepting agencies should find that the Honua’ula DEIS application is incomplete and premature. Critical components of the proposed action have not yet been decided and are therefore not discussed in sufficient detail to permit an evaluation of potential environmental impacts – the very purpose of an environmental impact statement and a requirement under Section 11-200-17(E) HAR.

Wastewater Treatment

The applicant has not yet determined if it will build an on-site wastewater facility (as it represented to the County Council when obtaining a change in zoning) or run sewage lines to MWRF, which may need to be expanded to accommodate Honua’ula. Neither option is sufficiently discussed to determine potential adverse impacts, or even the feasibility of successful operation. Furthermore, the applicant has not provided authorization for the use of Makena Wastewater Facility.

Until the actual wastewater system is determined, it is premature to submit a DEIS for evaluation and review.

Roadway Agreements

The DEIS states on the bottom of page 104, “Proposed agreements regarding the roadway improvements will be incorporated in the Phase II application and will be finalized as part of Project District Phase II approval.” As noted above, he applicant cannot postpone the disclosure of roadway agreements effecting the assessment of traffic impacts. Any roadway agreements must be disclosed in the DEIS.

Water Systems

The DEIS includes extensive studies and reports supporting analysis on traffic, noise, air quality, economics, and marketing but the Preliminary Engineering Report does not provide enough quantitative data on wastewater or water systems to permit any impact analysis. The DEIS provides declaratory statements about these systems without supporting technical studies to substantiate its claims. There are no hydrology reports or a wastewater system analysis for a very elaborate system, no matter which option is utilized.

Noise Impacts

The DEIS does not address noise impacts from the widening of Pi’ilani Highway. The DEIS states on page 173, “An EA specifically addressing the impacts (including noise impacts) of the widening (of) Piilani Highway is being prepared and will be submitted to the State OEQC for public and State agency review.”

The applicant cannot segment portions of the project into separate reviews. The widening of Pi’ilani Hwy is a necessary precedent to any construction of the proposed project (Change in Zoning Condition 2.a.) and must be included in this DEIS. The suggestion that noise-attenuating walls are recommended along the highway presents a serious impact that should be fully discussed in this DEIS. Section 11-200-7 HAR requires that a group of actions proposed by an applicant shall be treated as a single action when the individual project is a necessary precedent for a larger project.

Electrical Infrastructure

The DEIS does not provide discussion of the “possible” expansion of the existing electrical substation even though it states on page 133 that “the Wailea Substation is nearly filled to capacity.” The DEIS states that MECO needs more information before confirming the need for expansion. The applicant needs to provide the necessary information to include full discussion of the projects electrical needs and the actions needed to fulfill those needs. What will the expansion of the Wailea Substation entail? What will be the impact to ratepayers for the expansion of the substation?

SUMMARY OF NEEDED ACTION:

An applicant cannot ask for Chapter 343 approval for a possible trigger that has not been adequately evaluated within the scope of the DEIS.

The applicant cannot define or limit the scope of the EIS for his own purposes. Title 11, Chapter 200, Environmental Impact Statement Rules, prescribes the scope of an EIS. The proposed project and any proposed actions associated with it, whether “possible” or factual, form the scope of the EIS and must be included.

We request that reviewing agencies compel Honua’ula LLC to follow the law, The EIS should not segment or avoid discussion, evaluation and mitigations for these complex components of the whole project.

We request that the DEIS be redone to include required environmental evaluation of the planned and proposed offsite infrastructure and housing projects that are part of its original scope of approval.

With the exception of the EA for Piilani / Wailea Ike intersection improvements, the public has had no chance to evaluate these proposed actions. Even with the EA issued for the Wailea intersection improvements, there has not been an opportunity provided to evaluate need, impacts and mitigations in light of the larger scope of the Honua’ula project. It is not enough that these topics are included in the Final EIS where all opportunity for meaningful comments by the public and reviewing agencies will be foreclosed.

Comments on Other DEIS Sections:

Flora and Fauna

The DEIS does not evaluate the relative merits of allowing hundreds of native plants to continue living in their preferred habitat, as was intended by Condition of Rezoning No. 27, against the biological viability of damaging existing habitat, and then transplanting or out planting native species in other locations in a 120 acre suburban setting. Conservation biologists do not support fragmenting existing habitat as a preferred survival strategy.

The EIS does not disclose that the 143-acre “Native Plant Enhancement area” will have no legal protection. The 143 acres cannot, and should not be compared to a 130 acre contiguous, well established, naturally occurring dryland forest habitat area. If the project wishes to utilize native plants for landscaping in parks, gulches, golf course rough and common area, that is sensible. But the EIS provides no basis to conclude that this would be a more effective way of insuring viability of native species than preserving their existing habitat. The proposed out planting should be practiced in conjunction with in situ preservation of 130 acres, not in lieu of that preservation.

Condition 27 requires that the entire 130 acres of native lowland forest receive review and recommendations from Department of Land and Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Corps of Engineers before determining the scope of the preservation easement. It appears that the responsible agencies are being brought into the decision making process after the landowners have already made their preservation decisions.

Without this review and determination by the reviewing agencies as to the portions of the property that do not merit preservation, the DEIS must conform to the legal requirement of Condition 27 which states “The Easement shall comprise the portion of the property south of latitude 20/40/15.00 N,.”

Again, the applicant is postponing required authorizations in order to avoid full disclosure of necessary and critical information. This should have been done prior to submitting a DEIS in order to allow for full project disclosure.

No discussion is offered regarding the report titled “Remnant Wiliwili Forest Habitat at Wailea 670, Maui, Hawaii prepared by Dr. Lee Altenberg substantiating the need to preserve the 130 native lowland forest and which the County Council directed the applicant to submit to DLNR, USFW and USACE for their review prior to submitting recommendations on what does not merit preservation.

Section 11-200-16 HAR requires the DEIS to include opposing views. “In order that the public can be fully informed and that the agency can make a sound decision based upon the full range of responsible opinion on environmental effects, a statement shall include responsible opposing views, if any, on significant environmental issues raised by the proposal.”

Cultural practitioners, who are part of Maui Tomorrow, have commented for many years regarding the deep connection between the native plants and animals found on the Wailea 670 site and its importance as a traditional cultural landscape. Substantially destroying or altering the biological ecosystem alters the cultural integrity of the site and restricts the full practice of traditional and customary customs.

ACTION:

We request that the DEIS not be found acceptable until the “Alternatives” section includes a discussion and map showing the project layout if a 130 acre contiguous preserve area, located south of 20 degrees 40’15”, was set aside as critical habitat for endangered fauna, native plants and cultural preservation.

 

Cultural Resource Review

The cultural review documents, although very bulky, are one of the most incomplete and inadequate sectors of the DEIS.

Archeological Inventory Survey

The AIS for this proposed project has been under consideration through HRS Chapter 6E historic preservation review process since 2000. It has received three review letters on its inventory survey from State Historic Preservation Division dated August 29, 2000, August 28, 2001 and January 17, 2002, with each letter asking for revisions, including further inventory survey of both the northern and southern portions of the property, additional testing and specific justifications for significance evaluations.

These letters and any other correspondences between the applicant and State are not included in the EIS. OHA also requested additional inventory level work on the site in several letters. These, also are not disclosed in the DEIS. Instead, the project’s AIS makes up its own version of where it stands in the State Historic Review process.

Cultural practitioners have documented many additional historic sites and site complexes that have not been recorded in the applicant’s AIS and have forwarded pictures and locations to SHPD.

Cultural Resources Preservation Plan (CRPP)

 

Significance Evaluations of Cultural Sites

No specific rationale is provided fin the AIS or CRPP assessing the significance of each site. To be in compliance with state Historic Preservation law, the AIS and this DEIS must provide justification for classifying the significance of each site with supportive documentation provided. (Section 13-284-6d (1)(B) HAR). For an example, why are some caves – described as overhang shelters in the AIS- slated for preservation and others are not?

Criteria used in evaluating significance in this AIS are those adopted by the Hawaii State Register. These are not exactly the same criteria specified by 13-284-6(b) 1-5 HAR, which this AIS and DEIS must comply with. Specifically, the Criterion “E” used in this AIS omits the following important language (underscored.)

(5). Criterion ‘e’ Have an important value to the Native Hawaiian people, or to another ethnic group of the state due to associations with cultural practices once carried out, or still carried out, at the property or due to associations with traditional beliefs, events or oral accounts – these associations being important to the groups history and cultural identity.

The AIS must evaluate the historic properties using this specific criteria, but it fails to do so. Instead, it appears the criteria used to determine site significance is the site’s location relative to planned development areas.

Site descriptions do not provide an assessment of site functions with reasonable and adequate supportive arguments or an assessment of site age as required by Section 13-276-5(d) (4) H & J HAR. The AIS must provide such assessments in order for this DEIS to have the information necessary to permit an evaluation of potential environmental impacts. (Section 11-200-17 [E] HAR).

The dearth of adequate site assessments in the AIS is in part due to extremely limited testing, inadequate mapping of site complexes and minimal background research regarding kuleana land owners in the ahupua’a of Pae’ahu, Palaua’ea and Keauhou. One example: no native or foreign testimony for the LCA awarded in the region is included. The excuse has been made that the rocky site terrain makes subsurface testing impractical, yet extensive testing has been done in exactly the same terrain throughout the makai sections of Palauea and Keauhou ahupua’a.

Any Cultural Resources Preservation Plan (CRPP) for the Honua’ula project is completely premature. The DEIS should contain a complete AIS reviewed by OHA and approved by SHPD, after public comments have been addressed, in order to ensure that environmental impacts to all sites on the property can be adequately evaluated. A Cultural Resources Preservation Plan (CRPP) cannot be completed until a complete inventory of cultural sites is documented, mapped, tested and evaluated, reviewed and approved through the AIS process.

Cultural Impact Assessment

The CIA, although lengthy, is missing key information needed by SHPD, OHA, the Maui Cultural Resources Commission and Maui Planning commission to make sound decisions regarding cultural preservation on the project site.

Protection for Historic Roads and Paths and Traditional Access

The CIA concludes that traditional mauka-makai access should be protected, but did not ask its interviewees specific questions about their knowledge of traditional trails and historic roads, such as the Kanaio-Kalama Park Rd. One CIA interviewee, Edward Chang Jr. has given public testimony on other occasions regarding his use of a trail from Ulupalakua junction, on Makena-Ulupalakua Rd, to Kalama Park in Kihei. Other kupuna have confirmed this use of a historic trail (older than 50 years) during public testimony. The CIA should advocate for preservation of the current portion of the Kanaio-Kalama Park Rd to comply with the Kihei-Makena Community Plan policy:

“Preserve and restore historical roads and paths as cultural resources, and require such resources to be available to the public.”

The argument that Kanaio-Kalama is not a “Kingdom” Road on maps prior to 1892” is not of any consequence. The community Plan does not specify protection of only Kingdom roads. The argument that the current road does not follow the path of the original military road is not proven by any research or maps included in the AIS or CIA, and is also inconsequential. Old Makena Road, Hana Highway and other roads regarded as “historic” have also had their paths altered by time. A portion of Hana Hwy is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The CIA should do its homework and compile existing resources to comply with the community plan and advocate for protection of this important cultural asset.

The CIA also failed to insist on greater research regarding the relationship of the area’s cultural sites with extensive cultural complexes located seaward in the same ahupua’a.

The CIA refers to the Kumuhonua genealogy which is associated with Honua’ula through oral accounts and traditional beliefs, but fails to explain the extremely sacred connotation this genealogy confers onto the Honua’ula lands. This cultural connection with a famous genealogy must be disclosed and its significance to preservation decisions adequately discussed in the CIA.

Also, the CIA has made no effort to contact, interview, consult with and act upon recommendations of the numerous individuals who are cultural descendants of this land, although they have identified themselves during public hearings.

ACTION

We request that the Honua’ula DEIS not be found acceptable. The DEIS is premature because it does not contain a complete and approved AIS for the project area. Without a complete AIS, it is premature to consider a CRPP. With this process incomplete, the necessary information to permit an evaluation of potential environmental impacts, as required by (11-200-17(E) HAR), is not available.

Thank you for continuing to consider Maui Tomorrow Foundation Inc a consulted party in this matter

Irene Bowie, Executive Director

Maui Tomorrow Foundation, Inc.

Cc
Maui Planning Department
OEQC
Honua’ula LLC