The first preliminary hearing in the whole purple spot saga was held on May 20th before the Land Use Commission. The Land Use Commission met to decide whether the Environmental Impact Statement is complete for Tropic Land’s proposal to turn 96 acres of fertile farm land into an industrial park at the back of Lualualei Valley (the industrial park is the purple spot).
All six commissioners present agreed that the EIS is complete, but some of them made clear that based on the public testimony presented they had serious concerns about the proposal itself.
Testimony presented to the Land Use Commission alleged that Tropic Land, LLC is operating an unauthorized truck baseyard on agricultural land and has illegally mined pohaku from a known ancient Hawaiian cultural site.
“At least 85% of the farmland has been covered with asphalt,” said one eye-witness.
Activities like storage of trucks, and vehicle repair and maintenance are not allowed on land zoned for agricultural use. Waianae Coast residents said they filed complaints with both the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Enforcement Branch and the City and County of Honolulu.
Tropic Land, LLC has been cited on at least three other occasions for engaging in activities on the Lualualei property that were not consistent with its agricultural classification.
Pictures also documented the mining of stones on preservation land adjoining the Tropic Land parcel. Cultural surveys conducted on the parcel in the 1990’s confirm that this stones comprised a substantial, culturally significant platform.
A Nanakuli resident testified that ¾ of the substantial stone platform had been removed and some of the stones were used to make a sacred place to reinter Hawaiian burials exhumed by Wal-Mart on Keaaumoku Street. Tropic Land, LLC did not have authorization from the State Historic Preservation Division to remove stones from this site.
Tropic Land, LLC was before the Land Use Commission to change the classification of their Lualualei Valley property from agricultural to urban, in order to allow them to construct an industrial park on the property.
The Land Use Commission accepted Tropic Land, LLC’s final environmental impact statement for the industrial park proposal, but not before voicing concerns about the testimony presented by the public.
Holding up a picture of trucks parked behind a fence on the Tropic Land parcel, Commissioner Contrades asked Tropic Land’s attorney William Yuen, “is this correct?” Mr. Yuen said he had not seen the photograph, but that the property is not paved and trucks are not being stored on the property at this time.
Commissioner Wong asked Yuen a series of questions to clarify that acceptance of the EIS did not in anyway demonstrate support for or ensure approval of the project.
Commissioner Teves requested that the Commission perform a site visit to “see the so-called commercial use of the property in its present form, to see if it is true or not.”
What does this mean for the future of the purple spot?
It means that the formal one-year process to decide whether to rezone this part of Lualualei Valley from ag to urban has started. The hearing on the actual rezoning decision will be held on September 9, 2010 at 9:30 before the Land Use Commission.
It also means that the developer will have a very hard time arguing that this industrial park proposal is consistent with Waianae’s Community Sustainability Plan, since the current has no purple spot allowing for industrialization of this area… and the amended one with the purple spot has not been adopted by the Honolulu City Council. In fact, staff at the city said they don’t expect the Waianae Community Sustainability Plan to come before the Council the Fall of 2010.