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Lawsuit Settled Against Turtle Bay Resort’s SEIS

Posted on Wed, 2015/03/04 - 4:17pm by Jessica Gellert

Turtle Bay Resort announced the settlement of a lawsuit brought by Keep the North Shore Country (KNSC) challenging the City and County of Honolulu’s acceptance of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the resort’s proposed development plans. Full terms of the settlement were not released, but Turtle Bay Resort has agreed to make contributions toward the conservation of threatened and/or endangered species and to support a comprehensive predator control program on the North Shore.


Most importantly, the KNSC settlement paves the way for the State of Hawaii and Turtle Bay Resort to move forward with completing the conservation easement to preserve 665.8 acres of scenic undeveloped property, provided similar claims are settled with the Sierra Club and Unite Here Local 5. The KNSC settlement is contingent on completing the conservation easement by September 1, 2015.


“Resolving this lawsuit is a victory for the entire North Shore as it brings the community a big step closer to realizing the lifelong benefits of the conservation easement for all to appreciate,” said Drew Stotesbury, CEO of Turtle Bay Resort. “Treasured open space will be preserved and a framework established that perpetuates land stewardship, environmental sustainability, and cultural sensitivity, while substantially reducing the scope of Turtle Bay’s development plans. Everyone wins.” 

In April 2010, at the direction of the State Supreme Court, Turtle Bay Resort initiated the SEIS regarding its proposed development plans at that time. Following a lengthy and comprehensive public review process, the City and County of Honolulu accepted Turtle Bay Resort’s SEIS in October 2013. The KNSC lawsuit was filed in December 2013. Subsequently, on May 19, 2014, Turtle Bay Resort finalized a negotiated agreement with the State of Hawaii to establish a conservation easement to protect in perpetuity 665.8 acres of scenic undeveloped property the resort owns makai of Kamehameha Highway. As part of the conservation easement, Turtle Bay Resort worked with the State of Hawaii, City and County of Honolulu, The Trust for Public Land, and North Shore Community Land Trust to voluntarily reduce its development plan even further than was covered in the accepted SEIS.


Turtle Bay Resort’s updated development plan when the conservation easement is completed will be just 20% of what was zoned for development. The scaled-back plan will include two small full-service hotels with 625 rooms total near the existing hotel and up to 100 resort residential homes, less than one-seventh of the total homes proposed previously. Scott McCormack, vice president of Turtle Bay Resort, added, “An important community benefit arising from the conservation easement is that Turtle Bay can move forward with a responsible development plan that balances the concerns of conservationists with the demand for more employment opportunities to support North Shore families.”