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Maui Planning Commission to take up controversial project

By Staff | Jun 14, 2018

The developer of the property at 266 Dickenson St., builder Christopher Ondatje (Alliance Hawaii), flew over the first hurdle in the county permitting challenge with ease.

He’s rounded the first bend and is heading as fast as he can along the straightaway toward the next obstacle – a hearing before the Maui Planning Commission on June 26 at 9 a.m. at the Kalani Pakui Building in Wailuku.

He’s armed with an application for a change in zoning from D-2 Duplex and R-2 Residential to A-2 Apartment and a request for a Special Management Area permit.

The Lahaina News congratulates the Kaanapali resident for his deftness.

First, the Maui Planning Department issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on the Draft Environmental Assessment; it was announced in the Office of Environmental Quality Control Environmental Notice on May 8.


There will be “no significant impact,” building an eight-unit, three-story apartment complex on a 10,595-square-foot piece of property next to one of the tightest intersections in our community – Dickenson Street and Highway 30 – along a street so narrow it is not to code and is situated directly across the street from the entrance to the Sacred Hearts School cafeteria.

The right of way is so limited that trucks and busses are not permitted to drive down it.

If the application is approved, 16 vehicles will be added to the traffic mix, which already includes parents dropping off and picking up their keiki on school days and parishioners attending Maria Lanikila Catholic Church on Sundays and on special occasions like funerals, baptisms and weddings.

Oh, there’s more; the makai neighbor is seeking to sell his duplex-zoned property and is currently marketing it on Craigslist for $800,000, with the potential for a two-house, six-bedroom complex and “parking for at least 10 cars.”

Mr. Ondatje claims the development will help to address “West Maui’s acute workforce housing shortage.”

I asked his representative, Rory Frampton, for a ballpark guess on the monthly rental rate.

“He (Mr. Ondatje) doesn’t know what the rents will be yet; it will be dependent on total construction costs, including the costs to obtain all the approvals. His goal is to keep rents below existing market rates in Lahaina,” Frampton advised.

Further, Frampton said, “He will be using a management company to handle the rentals and is not quite sure how they will be selecting tenants.”

Mr. Ondatje and partners purchased the empty lot for $468,000. They are constructing a 6,051-square-foot structure and have hired consultants to help them scale the permitting process. In the end, with these costs piled on top, how much will the tenants be paying per month, and will it truly be workforce housing?

Your guess is as good as ours. Mr. Ondatje doesn’t have to tell us.

On Tuesday, June 26, the Maui Planning Commission will be assessing the applications. The public is invited to attend and testify.

First and foremost, the Lahaina News strongly recommends that West Maui Planning Commissioner P. Denise La Costa request a site visit with fellow commissioners, so that the powerful panel has the chance to make an informed decision with first-hand knowledge. (By Louise Rockett)