Lawmakers approve bill to fund Turtle Bay conservation plan

Oahu's North Shore
Oahu's North Shore

Lawmakers passed a bill Thursday to fund the state’s portion of $48.5 million agreement to conserve more than 665 acres of land on Oahu’s North Shore.

Under HB2434, the state would restructure the payment on revenue bonds that funded Hawaii Convention Center. The Hawaii Tourism Authority would then issue $40 million in revenue bonds and use the proceeds to acquire a conservation easement at Turtle Bay Resort.

The easement covers nearly 79 percent of the open space land makai of Kamehameha Hwy. Portions of the land had previously been planned for development.

“We are thrilled that the funding of this historic agreement has been approved and thank our lawmakers for supporting this quest to preserve treasured open space,” said Drew Stotesbury, CEO of Turtle Bay Resort. “This conservation easement is a successful resolution achieved through the collective efforts of the State, City, North Shore community groups, and Turtle Bay Resort working toward a common goal.”

Related Link: Read HB2434 in its entirety

The bill now heads to the governor to be signed into law. “This vote marks the culmination of years of effort to secure the future of the North Shore,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “The result will keep the country, country. It will protect pristine coastlines from development. It will provide open space and access for everyone.”

The easement will permanently limit use of the land to protect the area’s ecological and recreational systems by fostering the restoration of critical marine and land ecosystems, allowing continued public access to beaches and more than five miles of coastal hiking trails, and opening the area for traditional native Hawaiian cultural practices.

Turtle Bay Resort will continue to own, use and hold title to the land, but it and future owners will be bound by the easement’s restrictions.

Turtle Bay Resort retains rights to develop two new hotel sites near the existing hotel and one resort residential site on the Kahuku side of its property. The two hotels would generate an estimated 3,500 jobs during construction and, once completed, an estimated 700-plus permanent new jobs on the resort grounds and an additional 750 permanent indirect jobs within the community.

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