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Maui Island Plan allots 12,585 new units in West Maui

By Staff | Jan 21, 2010

LAHAINA — Members of the County Council and Planning Department Long Range Division came to Lahaina last week to hear the views of the community regarding the Maui Island Plan (2030) as it pertains to West Maui.

People from all over the island commented on what was referred to as “The West Side Story.” There are three versions to that story; one from the 25-member General Plan Advisory Committee, another from the Planning Commission, and the third version from the county Planning Department.

Each version is placed on separate maps that outline where each proposed parcel will be and the acreage of each parcel. The outline is identified as the urban growth boundary.

Dave Michaelson, planning supervisor for the Long Range Division, explained that Maui is unique from a planning perspective, and standard planning methods do not work.

“That is why we came up with urban growth boundaries and our focus is on urban infill,” he explained. These two methods use underutilized parcels and place new developments where there is infrastructure to support them.

Each map has designated different housing allotments for proposed developments such as Pulelehua, Kaanapali 2020, Villages of Leiali‘i, Wainee Village and others. There are differences in each map on the amount of greenbelts, regional parks, rural service centers, urban reserves and sensitive lands.

The major difference in the three maps is a development proposed at Olowalu is not included in the version from the Planning Department.

According to the draft Maui Island Plan, there are approximately 7,390 existing residential units in West Maui.

In addition, there are 6,233 units already approved and entitled in large subdivision projects, comprising a total of 7,095 units already permitted. Added to that are 862 small vacant lots that could be eligible for building permits.

The 2030 document plans for 3,600 more units, along with 1,500 units in Olowalu, for a total of 5,100 units for West Maui. A total build out would equal 12,585 new units and an estimated 36,585 more people in the region.

The current population of West Maui is approximately 20,000. Michaelson stated that the number of proposed units exceeds demand in West Maui.

General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) member Dick Mayer asked, “where is the infrastructure if your plan nearly doubles the population in West Maui?”

Bob Trout asked, “Is anyone bothered by the sewage smell? The main entrance to Kaanapali stinks. There is also raw sewage smell at Fleming Road and Kapunakea Street. If the sewage smells this bad today, imagine what it will smell like after all the developments are built.”

Testifiers also expressed concerns about healthcare and the need for jobs.

Dr. George Lavenson, a combat surgeon in Vietnam and the Gulf War, recommended a medical evacuation helicopter system for Maui to provide prompt and high-quality emergency and urgent care service.

“The lifesaving measures that must be given within (the first hour of a medical emergency)… are often quite complicated and need the assets of a full, comprehensive hospital such as Maui Memorial Medical Center. Even when some lifesaving measures can be given by local medical capability, rapid evacuation is then required to the higher medical facility for further care,” he stated.

Lahaina resident Ed Kaahui emphasized that jobs are needed now.

West Maui Taxpayers Association Executive Director Ezekiela Kalua stated that the slogan of today’s youth is “NOMS: Not on My Shoulders.” As much as he would like to see friends get back to work, “more development is not good for the community,” he said.

Randy Ragon, president of the Olowalu Mauka Homeowners Association, testified against the inclusion of Olowalu Town in the General Plan. Testifiers against the project cited lack of sewage and water hook-ups, the lack of much-needed highway improvements and the creation of urban sprawl.

Olowalu Town project developer Bill Frampton said after the meeting that “we understand that Olowalu Town will generate a lot of discussion. We pledge to build a community that Maui residents can afford and raise their families.”

American Resort Development Association representative Ed Thompson asked that negative language to discourage timeshares be removed from the Maui Island Plan. Thompson reminded the council that timeshares pay $17.7 million in annual taxes.

Carol Reimann of the Maui Hotel and Lodging Association stated that the visitor industry employs over 10,000 Maui County residents and contributes 40 percent of all real property taxes on Maui. She asked that restrictive language be removed from the Maui Island Plan, so that the visitor industry can support a healthy economy for Maui County.