Star-AdvertiserMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 23, 2012--The city Zoning Board of Appeals has scheduled two more public hearings to accommodate the roughly 10 witnesses expected to testify for and against a proposal by Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts to build what would be the first new Waikiki oceanfront hotel in more than 30 years.
A coalition of environmental and community groups is seeking to overturn a December 2010 variance granted by the director of the city Department of Planning and Permitting that allowed Kyo-ya to proceed with plans to build a 26-story tower next to the Moana Surfrider Hotel. The appeal was filed by Hawaii's Thousand Friends, the Ka Iwi Coalition, the Surfrider Foundation and KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance.
The Zoning Board of Appeals spent much of a three-hour hearing Thursday listening to lawyers from Kyo-ya and the project's opponents argue about what information should be allowed to be presented.
The board scheduled two more hearings for April 5 and 19 to give both sides enough time to have their witnesses testify. Board Chairman Ronald Ogomori instructed the two sides to submit briefs by April 2 summarizing what points their witnesses will cover.
The Zoning Board of Appeals ruled in February that the opposition groups could proceed with their appeal generally based on arguments that the project would degrade their enjoyment of the beach. Kyo-ya sought to block the appeal, but the board ruled 3-0 that recreational concerns were valid reasons to challenge the project.
The 2010 variance allows the 282-foot tower, which is tentatively planned with a mix of hotel rooms and condominium units, to violate ground and height-setback rules established to provide open space fronting the beach.
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