MACZAC weighs in on Zappacosta Case

Community Contributed
By Steve Morgan

The Marine and Coastal Zone Advocacy Council (MACZAC) is the public advocacy body that oversees the compliance of the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZM) under which the county Special Management Area (SMA) is housed. At its Feb 24 board meeting, following review of the procedures of the Zappacosta case, MACZAC members voted unanimously that the organization would involve itself in the case, expressing deep concern that the intent of the SMA process was circumvented.  Also present was a federal representative of the CZM program who was brought up to date.  The actions by the board are yet to be determined; however this could turn out to be the most serious obstacle yet for the Zappacosta project. (Read about the latest Molokai Planning Commission decision on Zappacosta: Zappacosta Appeal Shut Down.)

Consistent with the position of MACZAC, at the  Dec 9 MoPC meeting, Vice Chair Chaiken went on record stating that in meeting with the County Planners for both Kauai and Hawaii counties, the Zappacosta project would have never been given an SMA exemption in either one of these counties. Chaiken also went on record stating that the inconsistent manner in which the Zappacosta project was given SMA exemption was quite obvious and that projects much smaller in scale on Molokai, both before and after the Zappacosta hearing, had not been allowed such exemption.

In the case of the Zappacosta home, approximately 15 times the size of the average Molokai home, within four hours after the plot plan and dimensions of the Zappacosta project were submitted, the Maui Planning Director stated that he had completed his assessment and recommended that the project receive SMA exemption, meaning that no SMA permit would be required. Six days later, our own commission rubber stamped this project.  Because the State Shoreline certification had expired, a last minute plot plan was submitted by the builder, thus moving the house a hundred feet back, out of the State shoreline area. As a result of the new plot plan being approved within hours after submission, the Planning Director never caught hold that the house in its new location was approximately six feet over the legal height limit.

Adding to the list of application failures, illegal grading had taken place prior to the SMA application being submitted. The response by the Planning Director in regard to cultural and archeological impacts stated that these items were excused by the Planning Department. The reason given was that grading had already taken place and there was no way to determine these impacts. Of course if you haven’t already caught on, it was the illegal grading by the applicant himself that interfered with the ability to conduct an environmental or historical evaluation. 

SMA laws are laws created by the State and enforced by the County. Personally, I believe they are good laws as the intent is to protect our coastal shoreline resources for the better good of the public. The SMA process also allows community input, something that is very important to our island.

When one project is singled out and given favoritism, every other person who goes though the process in a legitimate manner is victimized.

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