Aloha City Council Chair Ernie Martin and City Council members
Regarding the Meeting of the City Council, City and County of Honolulu, Wednesday, August 17, 2011, 10 a.m.
Specifically SMA application for the Laie Inn Development Application for Special Management Area Use Permit (Major).
SMA permit applicant Mormon Church related entity, Hawaii Reserves, Inc; the application Prepared by Group 70 International in November 2010
I oppose and challenge this Special Management Area Permit Application (Marriott Hotel SMP 11-084) for the following reasons:
At a minimum I request for the Honolulu City Council to defer any action on the SMA Permit at this time.
The City Council must continue to perform strict oversight of the Executive Branch of our City and County government, speciﬁcally the Department of Planning and Permitting (Department of Permitting and Planning).
I am asking the City Council to responsibly exercise its' authority to correct the issuance of a FONSI for this highly controversial resort / commercial complex in Laie.
Additionally, City Council MUST continue to SCRUTINIZE the Department of Permitting and Planning 6 ARE MADE THAT SHOW NO IMPACT ON MAJOR APPLICATIONS.
As you are aware, the developer has already created signiﬁcant problems including irregularities surrounding the SMA process, improper notice to the Neighborhood Board, and the defective Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. In addition, issues relating to sewage, trafﬁc, and ﬂooding have already been outlined in numerous communications with the Council Chair and Councilmembers.
The Department of Permitting and Planning, as its record shows clearly, assumed that what it sent to the Council in this case in the form of its usual “Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law …” would simply, as they had always been accepted in the past, be rubber stamped one more time. Wrong.
I applaud Council chair Ernie Martin in starting a process which encourages the City Council to reverse decisions by the Department of Permitting and Planning which are obviously over scaled and allowing developer abuse of the process.
I oppose the Department of Permitting and Planning ’s Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law They intrinsically, seriously and completely flawed.
I oppose that the Department of Permitting and Planning cited the Flawed DRAFT Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan (SCP) in the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and issued a FONSI when the Department of Permitting and Planning unilaterally altered the document to make it consistent with approving the SMA Permit application. This is issue exposes the city to ethical and civil violation questions.
I oppose the Department of Permitting and Planning ’s original draft resolution appended to its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.
I oppose the construction of a 223-room hotel and adjacent buildings as a replacement for a hotel that had only 49 rooms. The question of the applicant’s ‘vested rights’ has so far remained unexamined and a major issue of Justifiable UPSCALING the project size has NOT been assessed. Granted, a 49 room, 2-story country inn existed at this location for many years.
This low-rise facility was set well back from Kamehameha Highway and was relatively unobtrusive.
Contrast this with a 4 story, 223 room hotel / commercial complex located close to the highway and the negative impact on the rural countryside becomes obvious. If allowed to proceed as proposed, this project would clearly change the character of the neighborhood and incrementally threaten the rural character of the entire Ko'olauloa District.
I am asking that the City Council defer any decision on this application to allow any construction before the Watershed Plan and the Drainage Master Plan are completed; thoroughly reviewed by Department of Permitting and Planning, peer reviewed and approved by the Council after further public hearings; then the application can go on back on the City Council agenda for a FULL SET of readings.
I ask the City Council to insure that the applicants are compelled to do both a Watershed and Drainage Master Plan before they are allowed to do any above grade construction which can only begin after both plans have been fully reviewed and approved, a process in which the City Council must play a very active role.
As citizen stakeholders we fully expect to be able to subject both plans to independent peer review and scrutiny, thereby adding a further layer of accountability by holding the applicant’s feet to the fire.
I am asking the City Council to request the US Army Corps of Engineers to review and comment on both plans and to submit the results of their review to the Council and make them available for public inspection.
I am asking the Honolulu City Council to defer any action on the SMA Permit so that no construction would begin until the scale issue regarding the number of rooms for this hotel is settled. Since the Applicant / Developer has been unwilling to discuss the scale issue with concerned community members.
I am asking that the City Council to defer any decision on this application until both the Watershed Plan and the Drainage Master Plan were completed and approved.
I am asking that the City Council to defer any decision on this application until the hotel expansion is settled; in fact the community has asked for a full down size of the hotel presence of the owners land which was entitled to build—all that constituted in their vested interest was 49 rooms.
The community members who were not intimidated by the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City have challenged the architecture of the hotel as ugly, inappropriate to its location and completely out of place at the application site. The community members have disclosed that the hotel is not being built for local people as the applicants claim. This hotel is for Temple tourists and is modeled after the Mormon Church template set in Rexburg, Idaho. It is for Temple tourists who will come from Salt Lake City and other similar places on the mainland. The failure to so far disclose room-rates is a scandal and underscores the deception that the applicants are well known for.
I am asking that the City Council to defer any decision on this application until the availability of potable water and about the adequacy of the Sewage Treatment Plant be addressed by third party review.
I am asking that the City Council to defer any decision on this application on short notice particularly in view of the fact that the applicants had sought, and had received an extension of 90 days which extends into November.
It is outrageous to claim that there would be no signiﬁcant impacts resulting from this proposal. The developer would not go to all the trouble and expense if they didn’t expect a signiﬁcant set of changes. Of course they will argue that their impacts will be positive. But the negative impacts on the community would far outweigh any beets the developer may accrue. As you are aware, the developer has already created signiﬁcant problems including irregularities surrounding the SMA process, improper notice to the Neighborhood Board, and the defective Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. In addition, issues relating to sewage, trafﬁc, and ﬂooding have already been outlined in numerous communications with the Council Chair and members.
Granted, a 49 room, 2-story country inn existed at this location for many years. This low-rise facility was set well back from Kamehameha Highway and was relatively unobtrusive. Contrast this with a 4 story, 223 room hotel / commercial complex located close to the highway and the negative impact on the rural countryside becomes obvious. If allowed to proceed as proposed, this project would clearly change the character of the neighborhood and incrementally threaten the rural character of the entire Ko'olauloa District.
Your decision on this issue must be based on the quality of the information and data and not on the personal anecdotes and feelings of HRI employees or on the number of company supplied blue shirts that predictably appear on demand.
In summary, the Councils position on this SMA application should be: though technically “legal”, when taken in its totality and based on its massive scale, this proposal is unacceptable for this area.
Please vote no and send this proposal back to HRI / Department of Permitting and Planning for downsizing and to seriously address the multiple issues raised by the broader community.
The City Council must address Developer EA and SMP Application deficiencies which were used to achieve a FONSI ruling by the City Department of Planning and Permitting.
The City Council MUST consider the flawed application process conducted by Group 70 International. We are continuing to discover omissions of important elements and facts.
Note: The 2010 application stated "The project will not affect wildlife habitats since there are none located on or near the project site. There are no endangered, candidate endangered or threatened plant or animal species present at the site."
This is incorrect as it is common knowledge that, for decades, the Hawaiian monk seals regularly recuperate at Clissolds’ beach that is part of this SMA site. When the SMP 11-084 application was prepared, the federal Register had already announced that the Hawaiian monk seal was being considered for Habitat protection as far back as 1976 with proposed habitat protection expansion milestones:
On 01/09/1985 & 05/26/1988 & 03/23/1999 as well as an introduced recovery plan
started on 08/22/2007; Now on Thursday, July 14, 2011 the U.S. Federal Register
has announced a NEW set of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants;
Public Hearings for Proposed Rulemaking To Revise Critical Habitat for Hawaiian
Monk Seals. The Process underway will INCLUDE the SMA Permit area described.
Therefore, I am asking that the City Council defer any decision on this application until the City Council it is determined that the adjacent coastal area is not designated a Federal Habitat Protected region.
It is also common knowledge among locals that the Clissolds Beach shoreline coral flats is home for he'e (octopus) catching. The Applicant and its consultants did not include the Wildlife and Fisheries Department in its review process.
Group 70 International also conveniently stated that there are "No substantial adverse environmental or ecological direct, indirect or cumulative impacts are anticipated from the project". This statement is irresponsible and incorrect and cannot be glossed over.
The 2008 Environmental Assessment letters by Jeff Overton, Group 70 International assured the Department of Planning and Permitting that the applicant Hawaii Reserves will " continue a dialogue with the Ko'olauloa Neighborhood Board'. It has clearly not been so.
The basic due process and community disclosures were generally conducted in-house. When the 2008 EA was conducted, Group 70 did not inform or consult all of the most affected residents as required by HRS Chapter 343. Several testifiers are examples of individual property owners whose property are almost directly across the site and was never informed or contacted by Group 70. Many individuals were left out in surrounding residential area.
Other Ko'olauloa residents out of Laie have raised issues of being blacked out by Hawaii Reserves and Group 70 International. For example: In August and December of 2010 Ko'olauloa Neighborhood Board meetings, HRI representative's responses to inquiring Ko'olauloa residents regarding the hotel were akin to "there is nothing to report as not much is going on" or " we don't know where the hotel is going to be located." Yet, the artistic drawings of the Laie Marriott Hotel complex were dated November 2010. Group 70 did not make any efforts to present an information meeting for this SMA application at the neighborhood board, a logical and accepted venue.
Similarly, there was no efforts to announce the February 14, 2011 SMA Public Hearing at the Kahuku High School Library. The minutes of that meeting show the Department of Planning and Permitting failed to even announce this meeting on the City County of Honolulu website. The city facilitator admitted to this lack of disclosure to the public.
Furthermore, the August 11, 2011 Ko'olauloa Neighborhood Meeting had the Laie Marriott Inn by the Department of Planning and Permitting on the NEW BUSINESS AGENDA, which is quite after-the- fact.
Unfortunately, there was no representative from the Department of Planning and Permitting or Group 70 or Hawaii Reserves Inc at this meeting to present information or answer questions. And this city council adoption is on August 17, 2011.
Consulting with affecting parties is a core requisite of HRS Chapter 343 and SMA guidelines. The core requisite was denied to affected neighbors and affected communities. This core requisite was denied at the very basic avenue such as a neighborhood board meeting.
I am asking that the City Council defer any decision on this application until the City Council compels the Department of Planning and Permitting to respect and adhere to basic statutory guidelines that are set to protect the vulnerable general public.
I am asking that the City Council defer any decision on this application until the applicant remediates its evasion of suitable due process. This includes open Community dialogue and public disclosure of actual known and potential issues.
I am asking that the City Council defer any decision on this application until the applicant remediates roadway infrastructural concerns in the Ko'olauloa area which is made up of small rural coastal communities linked together by a SINGLE arterial two-lane country road. What happens in Laie inevitably affects the entire Ko'olauloa and North Shore regions.
I am not against replacing the country Inn, which was a 49-room hotel and served a purpose in this region.
However, I am asking that the City Council deny this application regarding an exponential growth from a 49-room Country Inn to a four-story 223-room Marriott Courtyard, reception area, a 300-seat banquet/meeting facility, an exercise room, business library, a pool, a two-story restaurant with retail shops, bistro, gift shop, market place, stand alone McDonalds on this 9.84 acres block will drastically alter the complexion of this rural region.
I am asking that the City Council deny this application regarding the Group 70 International's irresponsible statements that this "hotel will be designed to maintain an appropriate sense of scale with the surrounding uses, including the neighboring PCC structures and residential structures on nearby parcels."
I am asking that the City Council deny this application regarding the described Marriott hotel complex which will irretrievably destroy the rural setting of Ko'olauloa and hoist multiplier impacts on our residential living and social ecology including Immediate residential areas impacted by this exponential increased resort use.
I am asking that the City Council deny this application regarding the described Marriott hotel describing a 223 room facility with 70 studios with 1 King bed, 140 studio with 2 Queen beds, 12 one-bedroom Suite Guestrooms. These buildings will total approximately 173,140 square feet of floor area. This proposed facility according to applicants has "No substantial adverse environmental or ecological direct, indirect or cumulative impacts are anticipated from the project". This is an absolute misrepresentation and the Department of Planning and Permitting has inappropriately issued a FONSI on this misrepresentation.
This SMA application should be deferred from adoption to allow a true remediation to take place between the applicant and affected communities at large. It will require more effort and forbearance but in the long run, it will reduce hostilities, friction, and aggravation amongst Ko'olauloa residents towards Hawaii Reserves, the applicant.
I am asking the City Council to firmly encourage community dialogue, transparency, and merit-based deliberations by deferring any decision on this application