An Eye On The Future

Kihei Community Association hears details of Maui Island Plan, views on future development in Kihei. “We need to know what you want.”

Tom Blackburn-Rodriguez
Maui Weekly – www.mauiweekly.com
May 26, 2011

Along with more than 100 others, Francesca Carey, president of FABMAC Homes, came to the Kihei Community Association (KCA) meeting on Thursday. May 17, at the Lipoa Center Kihei Charter School site, because she wanted to learn more about future growth planned for South Maui.

“Kihei is probably the fastest growing little community that we’ve got on Maui. I think it’s important that we are all on the same page as to how we are going to make this growth happen,” she said.

Ed Bello is the managing broker for Bello Realty Inc., and with his company’s emphasis on commercial realty, he noted that this was the thing that “tickled his interest” in being at the KCA meeting. “I have commercial property in Kihei,” he said, “and so I wanted to be better informed and see what people have planned.”

Planned as a panel presentation, panelists included retired University of Hawai‘i, Maui College Professor Dick Mayer, Maui County Councilmember Don Couch (who is the vice-chairman of the council’s General Plan Committee) and Land Use Planner Rory Frampton.

Although he was the vice-chair of the General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC), a group of 25 citizen volunteers tasked with developing the first draft of a Maui Island Plan for Maui’s future growth, Mayer emphasized he was speaking only on his own behalf and not for the GPAC, which passed its recommendations onto the county Planning Commission in 2010.

Using a PowerPoint presentation, Mayer raised a number of issues that he thought the KCA should consider.

“I am not a resident of Kihei,” he said. “I live in Kula. But I want to present some areas that you may wish to consider when reviewing the Maui Island Plan when it comes before the council and when developing the community plan for South Maui.”

Mayer raised significant issues for residents of South Maui to consider. He pointed out that the 2010 Census numbers had South Maui with a population of 26,892. The number of housing units was 18,559, with 7,710 vacant and 10,889 occupied.

According to Mayer, the figures are low because the South Maui daytime population is higher than the actual resident population, due to hotel occupancy and other residents who work in South Maui.

He suggested that there are four major landowners to watch for future development plans: Alexander & Baldwin, Kaonoulu Ranch, Haleakala Ranch and ‘Ulupalakua Ranch.

“You may want to meet with the owners of those properties to find out what their plans are,” he said.

Mayer said that the GPAC had wanted defined neighborhoods for Kihei, rather than thinking of the area as just one big community. Within those neighborhoods, Mayer had advocated biking and walking paths as internal greenways. Outside of the neighborhoods, he said the GPAC favored external greenways so it would be possible to walk from M?‘alaea to M?kena. Using the example of Honolulu transit having to pay higher prices for urban transit corridors to build their planned rail transit system, Mayer raised the idea of setting aside land now that could be purchased at a lower price, instead of waiting until later when land prices could be expected to be higher.

One of the most far-reaching aspects of the Maui Island Plan is the creation of urban and rural growth boundaries, which will define where development can and cannot take place on Maui. The planned growth boundaries would be in place until the year 2020.

Mayer said that currently there are 4,939 entitled units existing in South Maui, and with more potentially planned, this will have a negative impact on traffic and the availability and cost of water in South Maui. He said the planned development of the Kihei Research and Tech Park would be the largest in South Maui.

In their panel presentations, both Frampton and Couch questioned Mayer’s projected numbers, saying that several areas suggested for growth by Mayer were actually outside the South Maui Urban Growth Boundaries selected by the GPAC and the county Planning Commission, and therefore would be ineligible for development.

In addition, Frampton pointed to additional sources of water that were not high cost and were not part of the stressed ‘Iao Aquifer. Along with Couch, he agreed that the question was not the amount of water available—but how should it be managed and developed, and for what purposes? Couch also asked a rhetorical question: will the water be used for growing sugar cane, a high use process, or to create homes, business opportunities and future jobs? He said that in any decision there would be trade-offs.

Many in the audience stayed after the meeting to continue asking questions about population growth, sustainability, water use, traffic and the proper role of the KCA in commenting on development projects.

At the end of the meeting, Couch said, “I am here to listen to you. Participate as much as you can in the upcoming General Plan Committee hearings that will begin at the council shortly and go until late October. We need to know what you want.”

For more information, visit the Maui County Website at www.co.maui.hi.us and click on “County Council, Committees and General Plan Committee.”

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About Andrew

a KCA Board Member and volunteer who enjoys life in South Maui.

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