Neighbors next to a Haiku zip line have finally had enough after enduring what they describe as “the screams of the zip line riders on an almost daily basis” for nearly a decade.

Maui County locator map

In the latest development in a long fight between neighbors and the attraction’s operators, homeowners next to the NorthShore Zipline Co. filed a lawsuit late last week, seeking damages from the business that they allege has caused “direct harm by disrupting their privacy and peace of mind with screams from the zip line customers,” according to the court filing.

“Every scream is heard and felt,” the lawsuit said.

Maui attorney Anthony Ranken is representing two sets of neighbors, one of whom owns the land that runs next to the zip line, where “thousands of visitors” have a “direct view into their property and home,” according to the lawsuit. Ranken did not respond Monday to a request for comment.

In an email, Derek Hoyte, the owner of NorthShore Zipline Co., said he couldn’t talk about the case because of the pending lawsuit. He added, however, that the lawsuit came as a surprise, saying he’d been working with the neighbors to address their concerns for some time.

“Our plan is to continue to do so and to continue promoting the rich history of Camp Maui,” he wrote in the email.

A screenshot of NorthShore Zipline Co.'s website.
A screenshot of NorthShore Zipline Co.’s website. Screenshot

The fight over the zip line — and whether it should be operating in the first place — has gone on for years. In 2016, the Maui News reported that the company had been illegally operating since it opened without a permit in 2010, when it set up a zip line course on a property that was once part of a former Marine training camp during World War II, known as “Camp Maui.” On its website, NorthShore Zipline Co. says it’s committed to improving the historic site by “preserving its features and providing guided tours.”

But that wasn’t the zip line owner’s first run in with the law. Hoyte had gotten in trouble multiple times in Washington state for running zip lines without permits, including one incident that landed him in jail for five days in 2009 when he defied orders to stop public tours, the Columbian newspaper reported.

Starting in 2013, Maui County officials began cracking down on his business in Haiku. Hoyte, however, continued running the zip line without a permit as the administrative and legal battles went on. The course spans seven zip lines, where customers speed up to 40 miles per hour and soar as high as 70 feet.

Eventually, to neighbors’ dismay, the county in 2018 reached a settlement agreement with the company, allowing it to keep operating as long as it reduced some of the impacts on neighbors. At the time, the county’s planning director said World War II-era military bases, including Camp Maui, often had training courses that included zip lines, so running one was allowed as part of the property’s “permitted use,” Maui Now reported.

But all that could change again later this year. In response to residents’ complaints, the Maui County Council passed a law in 2021 that requires any zip line company running on fewer than 50 acres — which would include NorthShore Zipline — to get a special permit by this August. As of Monday, the company hadn’t yet applied for the permit, according to the planning department.

NorthShore Zipline has been operating on 17.5 acres, which are zoned for agricultural use, off of Kauhikoa Road. In the lawsuit filed last week, neighbors said the “unpermitted and out-of-place zip line thrill ride” hurt their physical and mental health, leading to stress and anxiety.

Two of the neighbors, Daniel Coltart and Marian Prosser, haven’t been able to record music or practice healing arts because of the noise, the lawsuit said. They can’t even sit on their porch and read without being rattled by screams.

One of the towers, where the zip line course begins and ends, looks directly into their home, according to the lawsuit.

“That last jump,” the lawsuit said, “is zip line riders’ last chance to scream their lungs out.”

Read the lawsuit below.

Civil Beat’s coverage of Maui County is supported in part by a grant from the Nuestro Futuro Foundation.


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