HALEIWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For decades, the corner lot on Kamehameha Highway near the Loko Ea Fishpond was home to a Chevron gas station.
But now, landowner Queen Liliuokalani Trust wants to build a retail complex there -- and that has some area residents in an uproar.
"(It's) very disappointing, sad," said Velzyland resident Bill Quinlan. "It's a huge lost opportunity. It was all about three things, money, money and guess what? money."
The half-acre property is less than a block away from Andy Anderson's Haleiwa Beach House restaurant, which was shut down temporarily last month for spilling wastewater into the same fishpond.
On Wednesday, the City Council unanimously gave its approval for the new retail project, a parking lot and a new septic system that will be built by the trust's new tenant, Lokea Kai Partners LLC.
Councilman Ikaika Anderson said that because the property was zoned commercial, the city could be open to a lawsuit if it forced the Liliuokalani Trust to drop its development plans.
"I respect the position of some community members that perhaps another surf shop is not desired or needed on the North Shore," Anderson added.
"Now if we are to keep this property open space and revisit the zoning of this property ... we would certainly be as a city open to liability and potential legal challenge for a taking."
The trust said the development will generate income for the services it provides for disadvantaged Native Hawaiian children. It also said the environmental impact will be minimal.
"It improves runoff problems we've had on this parcel. A septic system will be installed that goes beyond basic Health Department requirements," said LeeAnn Crabbe, vice president at the trust.
Crabbe added that there's "no evidence of traditional or customary practices" on the property itself.
But Kerry Germain, chairman of the North Shore Outdoor Circle, said the proposed building will block views of historically significant structures, such as the fish pond and the former site of Queen Liliuokalani's home.
"There's a lot of cultural significance here right here where the parking lot is," she said.
Germain said the landowner is also cleaning soil contamination from the former gas station and still needs a final approval from the state Health Department.