Media organizations and journalists, through their Maui
attorney Lance D. Collins, have lodged a Petition for Writ of Mandamus
with the Hawai’i Supreme Court seeking an order requiring the Maui
Planning Commission’s contested case proceedings related to the Grand
Wailea Resorts proposed expansion be reopened the public.
The Grand Wailea Resort is seeking permission to remodel and expand its
operations within the Special Management Area before the Maui Planning
Three Native Hawaiian community groups, Malama Kakanilua, Hooponopono o
Makena and Pele Defense Fund were granted intervention in the
proceedings and the Commission appointed Maui attorney Linden Joesting
as the hearings officer.
On May 7, the hearings officer issued an order denying that the
proceedings were required to be open to the public, reaffirming an
earlier decision that the proceedings move forward regardless of the
COVID-19 emergency or the stay at home orders on the basis of needing to
“get the administrative law work of the County done.”
On May 19, the media groups wrote to the hearings officer and the Chair
of the Maui Planning Commission asking that the contested case be
reopened to the public. Thereafter, another secret hearing occurred
where the hearings officer made further rulings.
Relying upon First Amendment caselaw protecting the press’ right to
access adjudicative proceedings, the media groups have noted Hawaii’s
long tradition and experience of open access to contested case
proceedings especially related to land use.
“For nearly four decades, the Maui Planning Commission has conducted
contested case proceedings in the public view and open to the press. It
remains a mystery why the Commission feels this case should be protected
from public scrutiny,” said journalist Victor Gregor Limon.
“This time of emergency does not justify government secrecy. The Resort
is certainly not entitled to have their permits fast-tracked behind
closed doors excluding the press and the general public,” said the media
groups attorney Lance D. Collins.
The case is Disappeared News et al v. Maui Planning Commission et al,
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