Molokai Ranch Denies Extension Requests
Public comment period on EIS to close Feb. 22.
General Manager John Sabas presented the commission with a letter from Molokai Ranch stating its decision to deny requests for an extension to the public comment period on the draft EIS for the proposed La`au Point development.
By Jennifer Smith
Molokai Properties Limited (MPL) denied requests for an extension on the deadline for public comments on the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for its proposed La`au Point development.
“We came to the conclusion that 45 days is really sufficient,” MPL General Manager John Sabas said during a Molokai Planning Commission (MoPC) meeting last week Wednesday. “We are not going to change the deadline. It still remains at Feb. 22.”
MPL, otherwise known as Molokai Ranch, filed a new draft EIS for its proposed La`au Point development on Dec. 21, after withdrawing a Final EIS last November. The development would require the reclassification of over 600 acres of conservation land to allow for the sale of 200 multi-million dollar rural residential lots.
Requesting More Time
Senator Clayton Hee, Councilmember Danny Mateo, the Maui County Cultural Resources Commission, the MoPC, and EIS consultants Glenn Teves and Steve Morgan were among the numerous organizations, government officials and community members requesting an extension on the 45-day comment period.
“It’s too bad the Ranch elected not to grant the short 30-day extension request,” MoPC Chairman DeGray Vanderbilt said. “The decision is not going to sit well with a lot of residents and government officials.”
Extension requests cited concerns regarding the EIS filing four days before the holidays, the lack of a user-friendly electronic format of the document, and that hard copies were not provided to the parties on MPL’s distribution list.
“MPL has not been forthcoming in coming up with information,” Teves said, holding up a hard copy of the document he received in the mail that day. “I think this is grounds for some legal action in not getting hard copies in a timely matter.”
The specially scheduled night-time MoPC meeting also allowed community members to provide testimony on the draft EIS.
“I believe water is the biggest issue,” Teves said. “MPL is on shaky ground with pieces of a water system and remaining pieces exposed to litigation.”
MPL has a history of distorting water figures, as well as irresponsibly managing the well 17 water system it is currently in charge of, according to Teves.
“It’s important that MPL comes back to the table and shares their information regarding water,” Ahupua`a Homestead Association President Kammy Purdy said. “Homesteaders are not going to give up their water.”
Teves said MPL is misinterpreting a Kaunakakai water study. He recommended the commission invite U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist Delwyn Oki to clarify the study’s findings.
Executive Director of the Molokai Community Service Council Karen Holt said MPL had previously agreed to make the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) unchangeable within the EIS. The CC&Rs would provide guidelines and rules for property owners of the proposed development.
However, according to the new draft EIS, future residents can change the CC&Rs as long as they are the property owners, Holt said.
Community member Chris Hammond found fault with the document’s protection of the Hawaiian monk seal. La`au Point is a well-known habitat of the endangered monk seal, Hammond said, and development in the area would push the monk seal out of its home.
Other concerns raised during testimony included a need for additional analysis of project alternatives, issues of project segmentation and issues concerning the enforcement of land easements.
The MoPC will hold a special meeting on Feb. 19 at 12:30 p.m. to discuss which comments to send MPL. However, the community is encouraged to send their own testimonies directly to MPL, to ensure that all comments are heard and addressed.
Letters between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and MPL concerning the potential impacts on the Hawaiian monk seals from the proposed development are on file at the Molokai Planning Commission Office, located at the Mitchell Pauole Center.