On December 2, 2013, firm client Keep the North Shore Country (“KNSC”) filed a lawsuit asking the Circuit Court to require Turtle Bay Resort, LLC (“Turtle Bay”) to properly study the environmental impacts of its proposed expansion plan. In 2010, the Hawai`i Supreme Court determined that a 1985 Environmental Impact Statement was no longer valid for Turtle Bay’s planned expansion. KNSC and Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter were the plaintiffs in that case, known as Unite Here! vs. City & County of Honolulu. The Hawaii Supreme Court required the creation of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (“SEIS”).
The Final SEIS was accepted by the City & County of Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting (“DPP”) on October 3, 2013 and public notification of this decision was given on October 23, 2013. KNSC had provided extensive comments to DPP and Turtle Bay on the Draft SEIS, and raised grave concerns about the lack of proper baseline analysis: the “No Action” alternative. Unfortunately, the Final SEIS remains fatally flawed and should have been rejected by DPP.
In yesterday’s lawsuit, KNSC stressed five areas in which the SEIS fell below legal environmental standards. KNSC requests that Turtle Bay’s SEIS be set aside for five specific reasons:
One, Turtle Bay failed to accurately describe the proposed project and therefore it is impossible to legally evaluate the project’s actual environmental impacts;
Two, Turtle Bay uses the “Full Build Out” alternative from 1985 for the purpose of environmental impact comparisons, even though Turtle Bay has no intention of pursuing the “Full Build Out,” thereby skewing the results;
Three, the SEIS does not adequately and vigorously evaluate a “No Action” alternative as specifically required under the law;
Four, the SEIS fails to adequately evaluate cumulative traffic impacts;
Five, the SEIS violates the law by failing to properly evaluate the impacts for wetlands, marine water quality and threatened and endangered species.