Controversial Seacliff development deferred again

  • Laurel Smith / The Garden Island

    Philip and Linda Green of Kilauea are seeking a Special Management Area Use Permit for the construction of a three-bedroom home, guest house, garage and pool with rock retaining walls, site grading and driveway on their 12-acre lot within the Seacliff Plantation subdivision. Residents opposed to the development cite cultural and ecological concerns.

KILAUEA — A wave of resident testimony on the potential cultural and ecological impacts of a development within the gated Seacliff Plantation subdivision has caused the Planning Commission to defer any decision on the application until December.

Philip and Linda Green of Kilauea are seeking a Special Management Area Use Permit for the construction of a three-bedroom home, guest house, garage and pool with rock retaining walls, site grading and driveway on their 12-acre lot.

The catch is, their property abuts Nihoku, or Crater Hill, which Na Kia‘i o Nihoku, a community hui, believes will be greatly impacted.

Much of the Nihoku land is the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to various seabird-nesting areas. The proposed development, some argued, is incompatible with this landscape.

The Greens have listened to community concerns and have already complied with several asks, including setbacks. The plans have also received support from the Kilauea Neighborhood Association.

But many have continued to oppose the development, so much so that the Planning Department began to embark on its own updated analysis on the impacts in the application by evaluating written and verbal testimony and clarifying input from the community following a September public hearing by reaching out to residents and cultural practitioners.

“We anticipate an updated analysis complete within the next two to three weeks,” Romio Idica of the Planning Department wrote in a supplement to the original report. “This analysis may inform and update the department’s preliminary recommendation provided to the commission in the original Director’s Report.”

Originally, in its Aug. 25 Director’s Report, the Planning Department gave the project its stamp of approval. The department requested the commission defer any action until December, to allow for more time to analyze, which the commission ultimately did at its Tuesday meeting.

Should the application receive approval from the commission then, Mehana Blaich Vaughan with Na Kia‘i o Nihoku said she plans to intervene, which the Greens’ attorney Timothy Irons said Tuesday they would object to.

“There is concern whether a substantive response will be shared in time to vet it with the broader community and reach agreement,” Vaughan wrote in testimony. “Na Kia‘i o Nihoku remain committed to reaching an agreed-upon solution with the land owner which protects the cultural, ecological and community significance of Nihoku, and is grateful to the Planning Department and commission for this opportunity and kuleana.”

The next Planning Commission meeting is Nov. 9, but the next time this hearing will come up will be Dec. 14.

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