While many members mentioned community concerns, that was all they, talk about them. See complete professional article in 10/17/15 Maui News
Council approves affordable rental housing in Kihei
While some still worry about infrastructure, need outweighs concerns for fast-track project
October 17, 2015
Maui County Council members unanimously approved Friday a 186-unit, fast-tracked affordable rental housing project, the Kenolio Apartments in Kihei, although lingering concerns remained about the capacity of the area’s infrastructure.
Council Member Don Couch of South Maui applauded developer Pacific West Communities Inc. for undertaking a much-needed affordable rental project, “but I also want to make sure they don’t cut corners.”
Drainage worries persisted about the flow of rain runoff through nearby Kaonoulu Gulch and the project plans to handle the water with culverts, he said. It will be the project management’s responsibility to keep drainage areas clean and free of obstructions, he said.
“If it floods, they could be responsible for the damage,” Couch said.
Council Member Riki Hokama said that he had reservations about the project’s impact on infrastructure and hoped it would be developed according to plans.
Nevertheless, “we continue to either exempt or delay the investment” in infrastructure, he said. “We ought to come to grips that the longer we wait the more it will cost, and the worse the situation will be to rectify.”
Jordan Hart, president of project consultant Chris Hart & Partners, said the development was planned in consultation with and the support of the Public Works Department.
The project underwent an environmental assessment and received a finding of no significant environmental impact, he said.
Testifier Daniel Kanahele said he had concerns about drainage in the flood-prone area.
Project plans call for constructing a culvert in a segment of Kaonoulu Gulch, which runs through the development area, he said. An existing culvert in the area already is filled with sediment, he told council members.
“Who’s going to make sure that sediment is cleaned out?” he asked. “You might have flooding issues.”
Hart said the project is designed to meet county drainage standards, and Kenolio Apartments management would be responsible for maintaining drainage systems, including manholes and a large culvert designed to capture runoff.
Kanahele said gulches, such as Kaonoulu Gulch, are significant to Native Hawaiians and are important, natural filters of runoff sediment before it reaches the ocean. Interfering with such natural processes increases marine degradation and impacts traditional cultural gathering practices protected under the state constitution, he said.
“Gulches have cultural and religious significance to the kanaka maoli and symbolize the spiritual link between the kanaka community and the environment,” he said.
Clean ocean water promotes the growth of limu and helps fish spawn, he added.
Speaking in favor of the project was Tom Blackburn-Rodriguez, representing Go Maui, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focusing on housing, jobs, water and other issues.
“This project is critical to the supply of affordable rental housing in Kihei where the rent for a two-bedroom apartment is running over $1,600 per month,” he said. “No major rental housing has been built in Kihei since the Piilani Gardens project” built in 2002-03.
“It is a cliche to say that Maui has an affordable housing crisis,” Blackburn-Rodriguez said. “But the crisis is not about housing. It is really about people, the growing homeless population and having safe and secure housing for our children.”
Project plans call for 63 one-bedroom units, 100 two-bedroom units, 23 three-bedroom units and two on-site manager units on nearly 8.3 acres bounded by Piilani Highway, Kaonoulu Street and Kenolio Road. Its southern boundary is in the vicinity of Kulanihakoi Gulch.
The $55 million development includes a community center, pool, fitness room, computer center and common areas for laundry, trash, recycling and recreation.
The 100 percent affordable housing project is planned for individuals and families with annual incomes not exceeding 60 percent of the county’s median income, or $46,060 for a family of four.
Despite ongoing concerns of the long-awaited and yet-to-be-built north-south collector road adjacent to the project site, council members agreed to allow roadway improvements proposed by the developers, which would cover only the frontage of the property. These include curbs, gutters, sidewalks, two vehicle lanes and a bike lane.
Developers pledged to donate 1.94 acres to the county to assist with the north-south collector road.
Couch said he would follow up with the Public Works Department to see that work on the road project is facilitated.
Because the project is being processed as a fast-tracked affordable development, it qualifies for exemptions from certain fees, procedures and construction requirements. Council members chose not to waive water system development fees of $500,000.
The project’s next step will be to seek a special management area permit from the Maui Planning Commission, Hart said.
* Brian Perry can be reached at email@example.com.
While there were only five commissioners present (out of eight,) this morning (10/13/15), our testimony was simple and to the point- talk about our “position paper,” see http://gokihei.org/wp-content/uploads/AirQuality-Cane.pdf .
While it it too lengthy to read as testimony in the maximum 3 minute limit, we submitted it to the Commissioners day before (Mahalo Director Spence) so they could refer to it when discussing cane smoke item.
As expected the Commission followed the advice of the Planning Department and would not honor the request of the petitioner to consider the affect on cane smoke on a project requesting an SMA permit, as this was an improper place, as the purpose of the permit is to insure the proposed project does not harm the coastal environment, and developer has not responsibility nor control what H C & S is doing.
We did offer our opinion that is objectionable to develop in the a smoke area, especially when H C & S parent company (A & B) is the developer!
Following in professional report of the meeting in Maui News.
Commission shuts out cane smoke petition
With 5-0 vote, members’ message was that SMA permit process was not the place to regulate ag burning
October 14, 2015
By MELISSA TANJI – Staff Writer (firstname.lastname@example.org) , The Maui News
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WAILUKU – The Maui Planning Commission denied a petition Tuesday that would have the panel consider sugar cane smoke when evaluating special management area use permits for projects near shorelines.
Commission members voted 5-0, with three members absent. Commissioners said they agreed with the Planning Department’s recommendation to deny the petition because an SMA use permit review process would not be a proper place to regulate the effects of agricultural burning. Instead, the commission’s permit review is aimed at determining whether a project being proposed (not one already built such as a sugar mill) would have an impact on coastal areas. The Planning Department received similar feedback from the state Office of Planning, which oversees the consistency of the SMA permit system.
In its recommendation, the Planning Department said the effects of agricultural burning would be better regulated by the state Department of Health.
Kahului resident Christopher Profio filed the petition on Sept. 22, saying he does not want to see building “in the path of smoke.” The smoke and ash from sugar cane burning by Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. “creates a hazard for people as well as the ecosystem and should be considered when granting SMA permits.” He had said that builders and potential buyers should be aware of the impacts of smoke and ash on properties.
Under state law, the commission had 30 days to act on the petition. That could have included initiating Profio’s proposed SMA rule amendments. This would have involved a public hearing and public notices before any decisions to amend rules could take place.
Profio’s proposed changes included having a description of all current open-air agricultural burning impacts to the proposed development site and adjacent areas.
A special management area use permit, considered by Maui County planning commissions, is used to preserve, protect and, where possible, restore the natural resources of the coastal zone, according to county documents.
At the meeting, Commissioner Ivan Lay questioned the consequences if the SMA permit review process were changed to consider cane burning. He wondered whether it could lead to requirements to inform homebuyers in Haiku that it rains a lot there or for Lahaina buyers that it’s really hot there.
“This petition is a push in that direction,” Lay said.
Commissioner Wayne Hedani, who admitted he comes from a plantation family, said that overall the “venue” for the petition “is not correct” and not “germane.”
Hedani said the plantations have created protection for watersheds and prevent runoff going toward the special management areas and coastal zones, which the SMA permit process tries to protect.
“They do more good than they do bad,” he said of the plantations.
Hedani said that his children grew up in Wailuku with asthma, but they were not affected by the cane smoke. Instead, his children would get sick when volcanic haze would approach from the Big Island, he said.
In his testimony to commissioners, Profio, who spent summers with his grandparents on Kauai in the ’70s, said the cane burning that happened years ago is not the same as it is now.
“It’s not your great-grandfather’s cane smoke. It’s burning a lot of stuff you don’t want to breathe,” he said.
Now, there are thousands more people living on Maui and more homes downwind of the smoke, he said.
“The smoke and ash are making people sick. I’m asking you to please help do something.”
He said he suffers from allergies and his wife suffers from respiratory issues.
Profio, who has lived on Maui for 8 years, said he would have wanted to know if he could expect to be impacted by cane smoke when he bought his home.
After the hearing, Profio said he wasn’t sure if he would take his issue to other government agencies that may be better suited to handle the regulation of sugar cane smoke.
“Decision-makers need to think outside the box,” he said of recognizing the issues with cane burning. Cane smoke opponents are growing, he said.
“We are not going away,” he said.
In an email statement, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. General Manager Rick Volner said the company was pleased the commission denied the “misuse” of the SMA permitting process “to challenge a widely accepted agricultural practice.”
Stop Cane Burning founder Karen Chun, a plaintiff in a lawsuit to have HC&S’ cane burning permit declared invalid, said in an email that “I find it ironic that supporters of cane burning tell us that we shouldn’t have bought homes in the affected areas and then seek to hide which areas are affected in the permitting process. You can’t have it both ways. Disclose whether an area is impacted by cane smoke or stop telling people they should move.”
Chun, two other Maui residents and Stop Cane Burning filed a lawsuit to challenge the state Department of Health’s issuance of a cane burning permit to HC&S. Mediation is scheduled for Nov. 18 on Oahu and will involve the Health Department, HC&S and Stop Cane Burning.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.