Residents oppose plans for Makila Rural Community
LAHAINA – Launiupoko residents are concerned about Makila Land Co. LLC’s plans to build a 271-acre project with 200-225 lots and units in their area.
The Makila Plantation Homeowners Association has filed an Intention to Intervene in Makila Land Co.’s petition with the state Land Use Commission for a State Land Use District Boundary Amendment to reclassify 271 acres of land in the State Agricultural District to the State Rural District (231 acres) and the State Urban District (40 acres) to be able to move forward with the project.
The proposed Makila Rural Community will be flanked by Kai Hele Ku Street to the south and Pu’unoa subdivisions to the north.
Plans call for 150 rural residential lots and 50-75 single-family workforce housing units. The proposed project would also include a central “village core” with a park, limited commercial space, community center and possibly a site for a fire and ambulance substation.
Approximately seven acres are proposed for dedication to the state Department of Transportation for the construction of the Lahaina Bypass.
Fifty percent of the petition area will be kept as open space for agriculture, community gardens, trails, parks, natural areas and other non-buildable reserve areas.
Open space areas will include a 500-foot wide greenbelt on the makai side of the community to ensure an open space buffer between the Lahaina Bypass and the proposed residential and commercial structures.
Makila Land Co. states in the petition, “The Project addresses the demand and need for rural residential and workforce housing in a desirable location in West Maui. The rural community will provide a logical transition from the Lahaina Bypass, which is proposed to border the community to the west, and the surrounding agricultural subdivisions that have occurred in and around Launiupoko.”
A Draft Environmental Impact Statement is being prepared for the project.
David Jenkins, a Makila Plantation Homeowners Association board member, said the project would impact his association and Mahanalua Nui (Launiupoko originally), Puamana and Pu’unoa.
“The proposal is for 225 lots, with we assume a good proportion having ohanas, so we are looking at perhaps a tripling of population in what has been developed, marketed and sold by West Maui Land as a low-density agricultural community,” he explained last week.
He said issues include water availability: “We have shortages and notices to conserve from Launiupoko Water; where will the water come from?”
The Makila Rural Community would take good quality agriculture land permanently out of productive use in an area where people are trying to re-establish agriculture, Jenkins commented, and create traffic congestion at the Launiupoko Beach Park traffic light.
With the Lahaina Bypass extending through Launiupoko to the Olowalu Transfer Station area, there will be three new roads exiting onto Kai Hele Ku Street, “which everyone on the West Side knows is a choke point. This also brings concerns about fire evacuation and safety,” Jenkins noted.
All of the area’s agriculture lots are on septic systems. The proposed development calls for construction of a sewage treatment plant. Jenkins said residents are concerned about noxious smells and the environmental risks of another sewage plant close to the ocean.
In addition to intervening, Jenkins said individual owners are considering legal action to fight the project.
“Additionally, we will be working with public advocacy and environmental groups which have much more experience than we have at combatting developers,” Jenkins noted.
“We will be trying to get the whole community sensitized to what is happening on the West Side from Olowalu, this Makila Rural development, the construction currently going on behind the dust fence at Guardrails, and the homeless camp between Puamana and Pu’unoa… The West Maui community should be concerned that this is just one more project being driven by developers through the planning system that will irrevocably change the character of the area for the worse,” he continued.
“The general principles behind the long range plan for the island is to concentrate these dense developments in existing towns and not to have these chains of spot developments where developers just happen to have land. All of us who live here know that putting Olowalu Village as a town of about 5,000 people followed three miles later by Makila Rural, maybe another 600-700 people, all accessing the road in to Lahaina is a recipe for environmental disaster.”
Approvals required for the project include a Building Permit, Grading Permit, NPDES Permit, State Land Use District Boundary Amendment, Community Plan Amendment and Change in Zoning.
An EIS Preparation Notice (EISPN) for the Makila Rural Community is included in the Nov. 8, 2015 issue of “The Environmental Notice” published by the state Office of Environmental Quality Control.
Instructions on how to submit comments, which are due by Dec. 8, 2015, are included in the notice at health.hawaii.gov (choose “Current Environmental Notice” at right).
Recently, the developer has held two meetings with Launiupoko residents to explain plans for the project.