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Councilwoman busy with several West Maui issues

By Staff | May 8, 2014

WAILUKU – The past four months at the County Council have been quite eventful. My office has been engaged with several significant issues that impact West Maui, including (but not limited to) the Kahoma Village 201H affordable housing project (neighboring Lahaina Cannery Mall); King Kamehameha III Elementary School traffic safety issues; Honokeana Cove beach access solutions; scrutinizing challenges with mauka land development Best Management Practices where runoff is negatively effecting Honokahua Bay; the Mokuhina Ecosystem Restoration Project; the disadvantageous closures of two West Maui recycling drop box sites; research and development of an improved pesticides disclosure bill; the passage of Maui Preparatory Academy’s Tobacco-Free Beaches and Parks legislation; as well as diligent work on the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget.

KAHOMA VILLAGE 201H AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECT – On Feb. 7, 2014, the council adopted a resolution that approved the development of 203 residential units, of which 102 multi-family units will meet the affordability criteria. Prior to the council’s approval, the Land Use Committee conducted a site inspection and held two public meetings.

Pursuant to the 201H process, the council must approve, approve with modifications, or disapprove the affordable housing project within 45 days of the project’s submittal. If the council does not take action within that time, the application would be deemed “approved as submitted.” Concerns were conveyed regarding traffic impacts, drainage issues, cultural impacts and potential environmental costs.

Following much discussion with strong regard for the area residents’ concerns, the committee questioned the developer, the director of Public Works, various county departments and a traffic engineer about possible alternatives, traffic counts and mitigation measures. There was also lengthy discussion regarding drainage concerns (the county requirement that measures be taken to mitigate additional runoff that could result from the project, and the developer’s plan to meet that requirement).

Some modifications that the committee made to the project are: affordable units shall be built at a minimum ratio of one affordable unit for each market-rate unit; construction must commence within three years of receiving a Special Management Area Permit; project must be complete within five years of the start of construction; construction of the three parks (within the project) must be complete before 80 percent of the multi-family units; and failure to develop the project in accordance with these modifications would result in a loss of 201H exemptions.

HONOKAHUA BAY – As we all know, Kapalua is one of the wetter regions of West Maui, so it comes as no surprise that any potential mismanagement of ground-movement activity up mauka could be devastating to our near-shore waters below. Runoff after heavy rains has resulted in numerous days of dirty water advisories and beach closures for Honokahua Bay. I would like to applaud Tamara Paltin, an ocean safety officer who watches over D.T. Fleming Beach Park, and an active group of concerned citizens assisting her, who have been documenting the dirty water runoff and bringing this issue to light.

History: In April 2013, I requested a site inspection and a ride-along for a project in the Kapalua area that my office had been receiving several complaints about. I was accompanied by two inspectors from the Department of Public Works, whom afterwards had expressed concerns that were going to be looked into further.

In the same month, during budget deliberations, I proposed a funding increase to the department, specifically to hire additional inspectors. (We currently have 1.5 inspectors for all of West Maui and Lanai.) The department felt, at the time, that additional bodies would not resolve the issue.

The latest update my office has received is that the state Department of Health’s Clean Water Branch will be submitting a report documenting alleged Best Management Practices breaches that were discovered during their own inspection in late March of 2014. Fines may ensue.

MOKU`ULA AND MOKUHINIA – On March 11, 2014, the council passed a bill that would fund the first steps of the Mokuhinia Ecosystem Restoration Project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. We allocated $200,000 for an Archaeological Inventory Survey for the project site that will address State Historic Preservation Division concerns brought up by previous studies.

FY 2015 BUDGET – The administration’s proposed budget includes the following for West Maui: $13,000,000 for capital improvement projects, Lahaina Watershed Flood Control, West Maui Parks System, Front Street improvements, various sewer projects and $500,000 for water supply and watershed protection.

In addition to these items, I plan to propose funding to support community events that drive West Maui’s economy and perpetuate the Native Hawaiian culture; events such as the Maui Nui Canoe Race, Na Kamehameha Commemorative Pa’u Parade & Ho’olaule’a, and the Aunty Emma Farden Sharpe Hula Festival.

My proposal will also include a request for increased funding to the Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve; a provision to rehabilitate a raised crosswalk fronting King Kamehameha III Elementary School; new line items for the Hawaii Farmers Union, Maui Chapter, for a Soil Remediation Program, and for a West Maui feral cat management program (population control through trap-neuter-release); an increase in funding for the Upcountry Ag & Farm Fair to assist with promotion/expansion of the 4-H program; and finally, an increase of $25,000 to keep the Lahaina recycling drop box site from closing. (This allocation will cover the hauling and processing costs to run the facility.)

We are currently decision-making in the Budget Committee. Check back for an update on the adopted budget in the next column!

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact my office at 270-5504 or Elle.Cochran@mauicounty.us.