AIEA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hundreds of residents from the Newton and Royal Summit neighborhoods above Aiea and Waimalu turned out to testify against a proposed nature center and zip line that would be built in a wooded area above their homes.
More than 200 people jammed the Waimalu Elementary School cafetorium to testify on the proposal from Waimalu Holding Company LLC, which has applied to build the nature center and seven-run zip line course on 447 acres State Conservation-designated lands.
Residents said having the zip line would increase traffic on Kaahele Street, where the main entrance to the center would be located. They also said there would be increased noise in what they say is now a quiet neighborhood.
The company said it would avoid increasing traffic by having visitors park at an off-site area. They would then be taken to the nature center and zip lines in vans. It also said having a nature center at the site would ensure the survival of native plants.
"By having more security up there and keeping people from parking on the streets, we're reducing the amount of cars that are going up the street," said Duane Ting of Flyin' Hawaiian Zip Lines of Maui. "So for me, I wouldn't be here if I didn't think it was a win-win for everybody involved."
Residents were skeptical.
"They talk about the nature center," said Steven Tanaka. "It's 1,200 square feet. That's 30 by 40 feet."
"The tranquility, the peace, is going to be disturbed by a minimum of 25 or so vans coming up and down that hill," said another resident, Carver Wilcox.
"People don't get zip lines and keep their mouths shut. They're going to be squealing and screaming," said Margie Davis. "And noise carries. It's going to come on down to the residents."
Area lawmakers, including state Sen. David Ige, Rep. Mark Takai and Councilman Breene Harimoto also testified against the proposal.
The company said their plans meet the requirements of their Conservation District Use Application permit, which must be approved by the state Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands. The office will take public testimony through Feb. 24. A final decision will be made by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources.