For Immediate Release: Aug. 8, 2013
Press Release by:
Gladys C. Baisa, Council Chair
Council Chair welcomes Supreme Court opinion endorsing Council procedures
WAILUKU, MAUI, HAWAII – Council Chair Gladys C. Baisa welcomed today’s 80-page opinion by the Supreme Court of Hawaii in Kanahele v. Maui County Council as a validation of the Council’s current legislative procedures.
Plaintiffs sought to invalidate the Council’s 2008 enactment of two ordinances relating to the Honua`ula, or Wailea 670, residential-development project in South Maui. The 670-acre project generated significant community interest and Council deliberation before ultimately being approved, subject to dozens of conditions.
Because the Council’s Land Use Committee was unable to fully evaluate the massive project in a single meeting, the committee recessed and reconvened multiple times. The Court found that the committee’s practice was consistent with the State Sunshine Law.
“I am grateful that all three courts that have ruled in this case have sided with the Council,” Chair Baisa said. “Though I have my issues with the Sunshine Law, the Council always goes beyond the call of duty to attempt to ensure we operate in full compliance, as can be seen in this opinion.
“It’s clear from the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Council’s current legislative procedures are legally appropriate. I commend Deputy Corporation Counsel Mary Blaine Johnston for her excellent work on this case, including her oral argument at the Supreme Court back in February.”
Many of the numerous proposed conditions were circulated in advance of a Council meeting, as a courtesy to fellow Council members. The Court concluded this practice – which the Court noted has been changed in the current Rules of the Council – was technically inappropriate because cover memos circulating the conditions asked for “favorable consideration.”
The Supreme Court concluded the ordinances were validly enacted by the Council, just as the Intermediate Court of Appeals and Second Circuit Court had previously.
The opinion is available at http://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/opin_ord/sct/2013/August/SCWC-29649.pdf
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