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West Maui needs smart growth

By Staff | Aug 6, 2009

With the future of West Maui at stake, the “Coconut Wireless” was buzzing Sunday.

Amid its review of the proposed Maui Island Plan patched together by the General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC), the Maui Planning Commission announced a meeting at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 4, at Lahaina Civic Center to take testimony on the plan from West Siders.

“This is your opportunity to tell the Maui Planning Commission how much development you want in West Maui, and where,” explained Dick Mayer in a widely circulated e-mail.

At first glance, the development proposed in West Maui is shocking. GPAC recommends penciling 1,642 acres and some 5,937 new units in the county’s general plan.

But long before the recession and GPAC’s controversial “plan” came about, there was a laundry list of major projects proposed in West Maui, including a new town at Olowalu, Wainee Village in Lahaina, the Villages of Leiali‘i bridging Lahaina and Kaanapali, Kaanapali 2020 and Puukolii Village in Kaanapali, a Department of Hawaiian Homelands housing/commercial project in Honokowai and Pulelehua at Mahinahina, among others.

These projects are old news. Where GPAC, the Planning Commission and County Council can impact the future is by putting Maui on the road to smart, effective planning.

Projects must provide affordable housing for residents, and impact fees should be steep to build roads, schools, a wastewater reclamation system for irrigation — you name it.

Blame the infrastructure problems of today on the pro-development council and Planning Commission. With the money flowing into West Maui in the last 20 years, we should have perfect roads, beautiful parks, better school facilities and a true wastewater reclamation system.

The projects charted in the plan will come up in the near future. During the approval process, will the decision-makers in Wailuku consider traffic, beach/coastal access, water resources, where children will go to school, runoff and other very important issues?

Based on how the community plans are cast aside, the Maui Island Plan is probably irrelevant.

Residents simply need to follow these projects and speak up for West Maui.