Hawaii justices want possible hotel expansion studied further

By Kathy Woods | Apr 12, 2010

Ronald Moon

HONOLULU (Legal Newsline)- An updated environmental impact study is necessary before the controversial Turtle Bay resort expansion may continue, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled late last week.

The project's most recent Environmental Impact Statement was conducted 24 years ago, and grassroots group Keep the North Shore Country has been calling for an updated report.

The owners of the 858-acre resort on Oahu's North Shore, Kuilima Resort Company, are seeking to build five new hotels and a 1,000 luxury condos. The plan was approved by the city of Honolulu in 1985.

The high court's ruling Thursday found that the project's original EIS report failed to address the presence of endangered monk seals that were not in the area 25 years ago and traffic gridlock that the expansion could cause.

Chief Justice Ronald Moon wrote the majority opinion, saying that the "substantive changes in the conditions upon which the original EIS was based rendered it no longer valid."

The Supreme Court opinion reversed a June 2009 appeals court ruling in the matter. The appeals court had ruled that no supplemental EIS was required under Hawaii's environmental laws.

Environmental groups Keep the North Shore Country and the Sierra Club have fought the project. They brought a lawsuit against the expansion in 2006.

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