North Shore community group says revised Turtle Bay master plan still too much

Jade Eckardt

HALEIWA—North Shore community members active in preserving the country lifestyle of the area were given a viewing of the new master plan for the proposed expansion of Turtle Bay Resort. They say the expansion is still too big.

Resort company Replay Resorts was recently hired by the owners of Turtle Bay Resort to oversee its ongoing management operations and real estate development program. Replay Resorts gave four members of the Koolauloa North Shore Alliance (KNSA) the opportunity to view the new master plan. KNSA is an organization that describes itself as a diverse and committed group of individuals, associations, businesses, and leaders that support undeveloped lands on the North Shore.

Drew Stotesbury of Replay Resorts invited Denise Antolini, Dee Dee Letts, Kent Fonoimoana, and Larry McElheny of KNSA.

The downsizing of the project follows the 2010 Hawaii Supreme Court ruling that the developer is required to submit a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before proceeding with any development of the property because the original plan and EIS was 24-years-old.

Although the new plan was supposed to have downsized the original proposal, KNSA said the plan was still “way too much” and included “way too many units.” The original proposal saw an increase of Turtle Bay Resort from its current size of around 500 hotel and condo units, to 4,000 units—five new hotels and 1,000 luxury condominiums.

In a statement on the new master plan, KNSA said: “Disappointingly, after two days of otherwise very positive discussions, Replay rolled out only a slightly rearranged version of [original developer] Oaktree Capital’s massive development plan, including four big hotels, three large condo units, commercial centers, and development still projected to be spread from Kawela Bay to Kahuku Point.”

The developer and and KSNA intend to continue what Replay Resorts calls “plussing” sessions, defined by the company as an opportunity to take an idea, plan, or project and as a group to collaboratively make it better.

Other plussing participants included individuals that Replay Resorts said represented both a global and local perspective on the ideas discussed.

From March 8 to 10, KNSA’s members attended the workshop and reported that the meetings were “productive as a way of sharing information and concerns.”

In response to the feedback at the plussing workshop, Stotesbury addressed the plan and in an open letter to KNSA, which stated: “Based on the additional feedback during the plussing session, we are going to review this [the master plan] to seek ways to even further reduce densities, and the developmental footprint made on the island.

The community preservation group said they hope Replay Resorts will be “significantly downsizing” the plan.

“We are pleased to hear that their first version is already history,” a KNSA representative said.

Stotesbury said community members who participated in the plussing sessions will be offered an opportunity to view and comment on the new draft of the master plan, that will most likely lead to a third and fourth draft.

KNSA said they will be including Stotesbury in parallel discussion about creative “no build” options for sustaining the Turtle Bay lands. The organization said they continue to believe that “significant development of the area is not sustainable either for the resort or our local communities.” KNSA members also said they appreciate the intent of the developer to conduct a “highly transparent and inclusive EIS process because it allows all of us to have a voice, individually and collectively.”

KNSA urged the owners of Turtle Bay to consider alternatives to development brought forth by the community.

The community group has set a goal to participate in and closely monitor the EIS process, and provide updates for their supporters and the community. To keep the discussion going, the alliance will be holding a community “Talk Story 3” at Sunset Beach Elementary school in late April as the latest in a series of community discussions involving the future of Turtle Bay Resort.

For more information and future announcements from the Koolauloa North Shore Alliance, click here

KNSA supports:

* A non-partisan initiative to preserve the rural character of Koolauloa and the North Shore by acquiring the Turtle Bay Resort through creative partnerships that will protect in perpetuity the undeveloped areas and coastline.

* Enhancing the existing hotel, golf courses, and related business at Turtle Bay and protecting quality jobs for local employees and residents.

* No further resort development on the site in recognition of its cultural and historic importance, environmental sensitivity, and the “carrying capacity” of the infrastructure in the area such as the already heavily used Kamehameha Highway.

* Transforming the North Shore-Koolauloa economy to one more reliant on the intellectual capacity of our people and upon sustainable use of the aina.

* Preserving this unique part of “country” for the perpetual enjoyment of Hawaii residents and visitors.