The Battle of Honolua Ridge
Why one group of rich people is fighting the even richer Maui Land & Pineapple Co.
May 03, 2007
We don't usually associate mud-clogged drainage inlets, potentially
unsafe drainage basins and poorly graded roads with new Kapalua Resort
developments, but a new owners' association report concerning Honolua
Ridge is saying exactly that.
Official Kapalua Resort publicity brochures and web pages paint the
50 new Honolua Ridge estates in extremely vivid, luxurious colors.
"Honolua Ridge offers agricultural home sites perched above Honolua Bay
and adjacent to the award-winning Plantation Golf Course," boasts the
Kapalua website. "This exclusive community is part of the gated
Plantation Estates at Kapalua and contains the largest home sites ever
offered at the Kapalua Resort. Home sites range in size from three to
Three to 30 acres overlooking Honolua Bay. Maui Land &
Pine—which owns the whole Kapalua Resort—certainly doesn't need to hire
Eric Estrada to do a 30-minute infomercial to move property like that.
By comparison, the nearby "exclusive private gated community" known as
Plantation Estates at Kapalua is a Hooverville—52 estates dating back
to 1990, no ridge, and they range in size from just two to seven acres.
The construction atop Honolua Ridge (HR)—broken into two phases,
each holding 25 homesites—is nearly complete. And when it is, that
neighborhood holding 50 massive, palatial mansions will become part of
Plantation Estates. And that has the Plantation Estates Lot Owners'
Association (PELOA)—the group that represents the current Plantation
Estates owners and the eventual Honolua Ridge owners—really pissed off.
On Dec. 20, 2006, then PELOA President Robert C. Miller and
structural engineer Florian Barth—representing the Plantation Estates
Design Review Committee—completed a 21-page report titled "Plantation
Estates: Preliminary Review of Proposed Honolua Ridge 1 (HR1) and
Honolua Ridge 2 (HR2) Infrastructure." According to Miller, the report
had taken four months to research.
The copy of the report obtained by Maui Time
highlighted four main areas: drainage, grading, roads and landscaping.
Miller and Barth were uncompromising in their conclusions.
"[T]he bottom line is that much of the infrastructure is not [in] a
condition that the Board of Directors of the Association believes it
could accept," Miller wrote in a Feb. 23, 2007 letter to all the
Plantation Estates and Honolua Ridge owners. "Aside from functionality
issues, much of the HR infrastructure is significantly below the
standards of the infrastructure of the original Plantation Estates
phases… [T]he installation of this wholly inadequate infrastructure in
HR by the developer raises serious concerns that will likely face the
Association for some period of time."
"Lack of concern for safety was my main issue," Miller told me later. "It's pretty overwhelming."
PELOA attorney Joyce Y. Neeley expanded on that view in a letter, also dated Feb. 23, to ML&P attorney Richard J. Kiefer.
"As is detailed in the report, the infrastructure in HR suffers from
serious construction and/or design defects which in some instances
would make maintenance by Plantation Estates Lot Owners' Association
('Association') impossible or extremely expensive," Neeley wrote.
"Moreover, certain of the infrastructure pose and/or create safety or
Such problems posed considerable "liabilities" to the PELOA, Neeley added.
"The Board of Directors is understandably concerned that the
developer apparently plans to suggest that PELOA should accept
responsibility to maintain this complex and ill designed drainage
system," Neeley wrote. "PELOA is not willing to accept this drainage
system or the attendant liabilities."
According to the report by Barth and Miller, maintenance of Honolua
Ridge's drainage system has been "less than adequate" during
construction. Barth and Miller report spillways littered with debris,
basins that aren't allowing water to percolate properly into the soil
and possibly high long-term maintenance costs.
"The developer does not appear to have considered safety issues
including unprotected open water features and steep slopes accessible
to children and others," Barth and Miller wrote. "There is another
non-potable reservoir in the same park area that creates the same
The rest of the report's concerns highlight a variety of
issues—grading that doesn't match design plans, "inadequate" slopes,
insufficient road shoulders and a paucity of trees—but aren't nearly as
dramatic as the potential drainage dangers.
What's happening now isn't clear. Miller declined to comment on the
current situation, saying his term as PELOApresident ended in March.
And current PELOA President Lee Reiswig wouldn't say much when Icalled.
"We're in the process of working on a response right now," Reiswig
said of current negotiations with ML&P, but then declined to
Structural engineer Barth similarly declined to coment, and Maui
Land &Pineapple Co. attorney Kiefer didn't respond to two phone
calls and a fax seeking comment for this story.
Kira Sabini contributed to this story. MTW
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