$7 million cleanup begun at Pila’a

North Shore developer Jimmy Pflueger has agreed to a “remediation” plan to prevent the discharge of runoff from his property at Pila’a south of Kilauea into ocean waters, a Kaua’i County Council committee was told Thursday.

At a meting of the council’s planning committee at the historic County Building, Amy Marvin said work on a $7 million plan approved by the federal Environmental Protection agency got under way Sept. 9.

Last November, heavy rains flooded a new road that led to the homes of Amy Marvin and others.

The work on the road caused a major landslide that dumped mud around the home of Marvin and her family, and poured into parts of Pila’a Bay.

Since November, the Marvins and other residents in Pila’a Bay have urged the federal government, state agencies and Kaua’i County to take cvil action against Pflueger.

The county ordered work on Pflueger’s property, intended for development as a luxury subdivision, to stop and called for remediation work by Pflueger.

Kaua’i County is contemplating legal action against the retired Honolulu car dealer.

The remediation work involves the restoration of a main road leading to the homes of the Marvins and others, revegetation and use of filter fences to prevent sediment from entering into waters at Pila’a Bay, according to O’ahu attorney William Tam, who is representing Pflueger with Kaua’i attorney Max Graham.

The work also involves the closing of a new road that the Marvins and others have used after the main road, created about 30 years ago, was closed off, Tam said.

As part of the work to prevent sediment from moving down a gully into the ocean, a temporary berm is being constructed at the end of the gully, Tam said.

The remediation plan should prevent future discharge of sediment into the ocean, he said.

Belt Collins and Associates, an O’ahu-based engineering firm, developed the plans that were approved by the EPA, the state Department of Health, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Kaua’i County Planning Department an d the Kaua’i County Public Works Department, Tam said. The plans will be implemented in stages and may be modified as the “engineering demands,” he said.

The work is being done by a contractor, Goodfellow, Tam said.

Belt Collins submitted the plans to the government for approval in late July and government approval of the plan was given in late August, Tam said.

On Aug. 19, the environmental law firm Earthjustice filed a lawsuit in Hawai’i state court on behalf of the Limu Coalition and the Kilauea Neighborhood to stop alleged destruction of a coral reef along the coast at Pila’a by Pflueger’s workers in the development of his proposed luxury subdivision.

On Wednesday, Earthjustice said it plans to file a federal lawsuit against Pflueger for alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act at his development at Pila’a south of Kilauea.

Under federal law, Pflueger has to be given 60 days advance notice before a lawsuit is filed.

Earthjustice attorney David Henkin said a lawsuit will be filed if Pflueger doesn’t take corrective action.

Earthjustice contends Pflueger’s men covered stream bed by Pila’a Bay to make the new road, which is part of the remediation work.

Tam said a pathway in the gully was widened to make the road and that the stream bed, which is fed by springs and is not always full of water, was not disturbed.

As for the existing lawsuit against Pflueger, Tam said “I can’t say if it makes all the issues in the lawsuit moot, but it will solve the major problems.”

In assessing the remediation work, Amy Marvin said she was delighted and praised council chairman Ron Kouchi and councilmembers Gary Hooser and Kaipo Asing for their repeated visits to Pila’a Bay to inspect the damage.

But Ray Chuan, president of Limu Coalition, said Pflueger only agreed to the remediation plan out of self-preservation and lambasted the council for giving after-the-fact permits to large developers.

The planning committee will take up the issue of unpermitted grading on Pflueger’s property and in Moloa’a at its next meeting at the historic County Building on Oct. 3.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net

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