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Turtle Bay files environmental impact statement

By Cam Tran
Published On: Dec 13 2012 07:25:16 AM HST

Residents react to the possible expansion of Turtle Bay Resort.

KAHUKU, Hawaii -

Some North Shore residents say a 220-acre expansion to the Turtle Bay Resort could negatively impact their community.

The controversial expansion includes two new hotels and hundreds of residential housing units along Kuilima and Kawela bays.  It will mean 1,375 new housing units along the North Shore.

"Imagine a 1,000 more units and all of that pristine area taken away," said North Shore resident Malia Damon.  "We know we don't have the infrastructure to support that."

Turtle Bay hosted an informal open house Wednesday night to unveil its recent environmental impact statement.  The statement shows traffic could increase in Haliewa by as much as 28 percent and in nearby Kahaluu by 17 percent.

"Anyone who's been on the North Shore recently knows our traffic problems are really bad and dangerous," said Damon.

However, Turtle Bay CEO Drew Stotesbury says the EIS has plans to mitigate the traffic.

"There are big highway improvements that we are obligated to make that will certainly help things in this immediate area," said Stotesbury.  "Then, we'll also pay a fair part of regional improvements to highways that DOT would undertake."

According to the EIS, lights from the development will impact the breeding of sea turtles and disorient their young.  Many at the open house felt the report was not comprehensive and didn't address the full inventory of fish and marine life that could be affected.

"My main concern is when you make a development, the impacts on the reef." said fisherman Makani Christensen.  "After reading a portion of the EIS  that was relevant to the ocean, they are missing a big relevant portion, which is to see how our nurseries would be affected."

However, the North Shore Strategy Planning Committee, which says it's an advocacy group for local residents, feels the new environmental impact statement addresses the public's concerns.

"The North Shore Strategy Planning Committee has been addressing the traffic and all the other issues like marine life, conservation, and cultural issues since 1986," said Sarah Cadiz with the committee.  "We continue to dialogue with the new owners and we support what they brought up to the table."

The developers for Turtle Bay say they will continue taking comments from the public until Jan. 18, 2013.   They will use those comments for their final environmental impact statement, which is expected out next summer.

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