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Olowalu Town developers seek public comments on Draft EIS

By Staff | Mar 15, 2012

OLOWALU – Olowalu Town LLC and Olowalu Ekolu LLC announced Friday that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed 636-acre, 1,500-unit Olowalu Town Master Plan is open for public review and comment.

The DEIS was published in the State Office of Environmental Quality Control’s March 8 issue of “The Environmental Notice.”

The developers encourage public review and testimony on the DEIS posted online at hawaii.gov/health/environmental/oeqc/index.html/.

Olowalu Town Project Developer Bill Frampton said, “After more than six-and-a-half years of our community-driven planning process, and after the General Plan Advisory (Committee) overwhelmingly voted 21-4 to support Olowalu Town, and the Maui County Planning Commission voted 5-2 in favor of Olowalu Town, we are pleased to submit for public review and comment our Draft EIS.

“We acknowledge and respect that the County Council is presently in the process of reviewing the Maui Island Plan, and as such, we feel our DEIS can provide our elected officials with a thorough analysis of the project, which can be used to help make well-informed decisions on the Maui Island Plan. Publication of the DEIS and community review is another step in the process of reestablishing a small town at Olowalu.”

As Frampton explained, the General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) and Planning Commission recommended that Olowalu Town be included in the Maui Island Plan’s urban and rural growth boundaries during their reviews of the document, but county Planning Director Will Spence removed the project from the directed growth chapter of the plan after each vote.

The County Council is currently reviewing the Maui Island Plan and recommended amendments.

Speaking for himself and not on behalf of the panel, Dick Mayer, GPAC vice-chairman, said that the council should evaluate what projects are proposed and where they are located related to existing infrastructure, among other factors.

Mayer’s concerns – which he said are shared by the county administration – include that the proposed Olowalu Town is isolated from jobs compared to other projects slated in West Maui.

According to Mayer, other key issues are that the Olowalu project is isolated from existing infrastructure, such as schools and emergency services; runoff generated by the project may harm Olowalu’s reefs, which are among the best on Maui; and Honoapiilani Highway from Maalaea to the project site is overburdened and inadequate.

Plans for Olowalu Town call for 1,500 units in a wide range of housing, including single-family, live-work, apartments, townhouses, farmsteads, senior and 50 percent affordable housing.

Neighborhood town centers include 300,000 to 375,000 square feet of business/commercial space, which is designed to provide stores for residents to meet daily household needs and offer diverse employment opportunities.

According to the developers, the project would create 4,770 jobs over the entire project, with 1,000 long-term jobs within the community at full completion.

Olowalu Town’s transportation system includes relocating Honoapiilani Highway to a new mauka alignment. The existing highway corridor with monkey pod trees would be preserved and converted to a low-speed, low-volume coastal roadway.

The Master Plan includes areas for public facilities, such as a school, police and fire station, medical support facilities, community centers, offices for social services and nonprofit organizations, churches and a library.

More than 220 acres of park/open space would be dedicated to recreational activities such as surfing, swimming, fishing, hiking and diving, along with a series of interconnected greenways/bikeways for walking or biking.

Plans also include an extensive drainage system to capture storm-water runoff and construction of an onsite decentralized wastewater treatment facility that will include a R-1 recycled water storage tank, constructed vertical flow wetland and a soil aquifer treatment system.

The wastewater treatment facility would produce clean recycled water for irrigation, eliminating the need for injection wells.

Dave Ward, Olowalu Town project developer, said, “Olowalu Town is a community that plans for a safe, efficient and multi-modal transportation system, with potential for transit or light rail, and eliminates dangerous traffic conditions which are nearly on top of ocean-related activities.”

In 2005, Olowalu Town was conceived at a ten-day community planning process involving residents from all over Maui. The workshop was led by Andrs Duany, a New Urbanism (traditional neighborhood design) authority.

Retired Iao Intermediate School Principal Elizabeth Ayson said, “Beginning with the involvement of Maui’s people, the conceptual process encouraged cooperation and emotional ownership of a new attitude for future development on this island of limited space and abundant beauty.”

Additional community planning efforts included sending two mailings to every mailbox on Maui, hosting a weekly radio show for two years and presenting the master plan at more than 85 community meetings.

The developers noted that ancient ahupua’a planning and resource management principles were applied during the shaping of the plan, factoring input from knowledgeable local families and Hawaiian practitioners.

“(Olowalu Town) will not recreate an ahupua’a system; rather seek to integrate the sustainable values of the system into future plans by balancing the needs of Maui’s growing population, yet upholding and valuing our cultural, historical and natural resources,” Frampton said.

“Olowalu Town is a story about the success of a community-driven effort to shape a lifestyle and small town that will create a better Maui for our families, now and for generations to come,” he concluded.