Friday, July 06, 2007

Old-time residents of Sandhills protest shopping center plans
By MELISSA TANJI, Staff Writer

WAILUKU – Residents in Sandhills say plans for changes to Kainani Street for a new Maui Lani Shopping Center will affect the primary access road to their Wailuku community.

Their objections will be heard Tuesday when the Maui Planning Commission is scheduled to take up a request to approve phase 2 of the project district process for the 13-acre commercial

site. Sandhills residents say the center is excessive and will change the pace of life in their old Wailuku neighborhood.

The Maui Lani Shopping Center site is along Maui Lani Parkway and Kaahumanu Avenue across from Baldwin High School. The shopping center will provide 128,000 square feet of commercial space, including a Safeway market and a gas station with 12 fuel pumps, a food court and related retail and service shops.

Access to the center will be from Maui Lani Parkway and Kainani Street, a main thoroughfare for Sandhills residents from Kaahumanu Avenue.

Teresa Wright, a Sandhills resident who has been talking to the county Planning Department and developers since 2005, said the neighborhood’s concerns have not been addressed adequately.

“While I appreciate the development team taking the time to meet with our neighborhood, in the end it appears it has been self-serving. They have given the appearance of wanting to work with us but have not adequately addressed our concerns,” she said in an e-mail statement to The Maui News.

She added that residents have “strongly objected” to the project’s full use of Kainani Street.

“Instead of making changes to Kainani to address our concerns, the developer has now made Kainani Street an even more critical access road to the project,” she added.

The use of Kainani Street will also trigger a requirement for an environmental assessment, according to a planning staff report on the project – meaning the commission will conduct a public hearing but will likely take no action on the project district request on Tuesday.

According to the staff report, improvements planned for Kainani Street and other elements of the development plans have triggered the environmental assessment process. As a result, the staff will recommend the commission defer the request until an assessment is completed.

The use of Kainani as a major access for the commercial complex is only one of the issues for residents, who also question the size of the commercial site and businesses.

“I’m not against development, but I don’t know why in such a small area we have to do this,” said 73-year-old Elsie Furtado, who said she has lived in Sandhills her whole life.

Furtado said she would like the project scaled back and asked why a large Safeway store is needed along with 12 gas pumps.

“I wouldn’t mind (stores), but why does it have to be in such a large scale?” she asked.

Dr. Sakae Uehara, a retired surgeon who has lived in Sandhills for 40 years, said he is concerned about increased traffic on Kainani Street and how it will affect traffic on Kaahumanu Avenue having to cross the roadway to get onto Kainani.

“Very dangerous,” he said. “(But) if they coordinate it, I don’t think it will be too bad.”

The Maui Lani Shopping Center is planned on a site designated for commercial use within the 1,200-acre Maui Lani Project District.

In addition to the proposed Safeway – equal in size to the Safeway at the Piilani Village center in Kihei – the Maui Lani center will provide three separate free-standing buildings for other shops and businesses. The staff report said the Safeway is expected to be open 24 hours.

There will be 673 parking stalls. The buildings will be constructed with similar materials to the neighboring Kaiser Permanente Maui Lani Clinic.

Burials were found on the site, but the State Historic Preservation Division noted that the project will have “no effect” on historic properties as long as all conditions of the burial treatment plan and monitoring plan are followed.

Two access driveways into the center will be provided along Maui Lani Parkway. The main entrance will be in line with the entrance driveway to the Kaiser Maui Lani Clinic. The shopping center’s main entrance will be “full access,” with right and left turns in and out. The second access will be approximately 120 feet south of the main access and will serve as a service road as well as parking access. There will only be right turns in and out on Maui Lani Parkway.

The entrance from Kainani Street will be full access, with right and left turns in and out.

Residents in the Sandhills community have been irritated that Kainani will be reshaped and circulated a petition opposing the use of the street as an access road to the center.

At least 74 residents signed the petition, while others filled out forms noting their concerns about the project. Those concerns ranged from shopping center closing times to safety issues.

Furtado said the center will bring more cars into the neighborhood. She said motorists already use Halenani Drive as a thoroughfare from Kahului to Wailuku.

“Why do we need to create more traffic in a nice community?” she said.

Halenani is an older, narrow residential roadway, and she said it sometimes is hard to get two cars through the street.

“With an entrance and exit at the bottom here where they plan to put it, that will increase our traffic; it’s going to bring more people here,” she protested.

In a letter to county planning staff, a Naniloa Drive resident, Nancy Halley, urged that the center be scaled back so there is no need to modify Kainani Street.

“Creative design and downsizing a project is not necessarily bad economics,” she wrote. “I believe that tourists and locals alike would enjoy shopping at a smaller shopping center that offers local produce. A smaller project would not need to alter Kainani Street, and this would retain the safety and historical uniqueness of old Sandhills.”

Melissa Tanji can be reached at


A public hearing on phase 2 project district approval of the Maui Lani Shopping center will be held by the Maui Planning Commission at a meeting beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Planning Department Conference room, Kalana Pakui Building.

Other matters on the agenda include:

Lipoa Street Partners LLC is seeking a special management area use permit for the Pacific Plaza Project, a two-story commercial office and retail complex at 99 E. Lipoa St.

Ron Serle is requesting a state land use district boundary reclassification from agricultural district to rural district and change in zoning to rural for the Serle Subdivision on about 5 acres in Haiku.



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