WAILUKU - A decadelong process neared an end Wednesday afternoon as a Maui County Council committee recommended approval of maps that will guide future growth and development on the island over the next two decades.
The General Plan Committee voted 6-3 in favor of the proposed "directed growth boundaries" contained in the draft Maui Island Plan. Council Chairman Danny Mateo and Council Members Elle Cochran and Riki Hokama voted against the plan.
The plan now heads out for a public hearing before it will be heard by the full council. From there, the plans will be vetted by yet-to-be-appointed Community Plan Advisory Committees and the Maui Planning Commission before heading back to the County Council for final approval.
Cochran - who often opposed proposed developments included on the maps - said she was unhappy with the outcome. She said it was "unfortunate" that the plan the council committee approved differs from the plan presented by the General Plan Advisory Committee.
"I'm looking forward to the community plans to see how we listen to the community voice in that part of the planning process," Cochran said. "I'm happy that we all survived this process . . . but I'm not all that happy with it."
Committee Chairwoman Gladys Baisa compared the committee's work to a marathon and expressed relief to be crossing the finish line Wednesday.
"This is the moment. We're done," Baisa said. "I'm not going to lie and say it's been a pleasure. But what I do want to say is it's been an incredible learning experience for me.
. . . They told me that when we were through with this that it would be a very good plan if not everyone was happy with it . . . and I think that's where we're at."
Committee Co-chairman Don Couch called the move historic, noting that the county's last plan was only 14 pages in length while this one is hundreds of pages long and very detailed. "It's something we can be proud of," he said.
The draft maps contain growth boundaries designating which areas on Maui are appropriate for development.
The General Plan Committee this week made final revisions to the maps, including changes to previous decisions. Some of those changes included:
* Waikapu: The committee approved adding areas above and around the King Kamehameha and Kahili golf courses within the rural growth boundaries. The designation would allow for 2-acre residential estates to be built around the courses.
* Pulehunui/Puunene: The committee voted not to include any of the state lands being proposed for development off both sides of Mokulele Highway near the old Puunene airport and National Guard Armory.
The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and Department of Land and Natural Resources had proposed a plan that called for light industrial, business and commercial activities on some 900 acres. Plans also called for a new prison.
Several council members had expressed distrust of the state, citing, as an example, back taxes owed to the county for years of unpaid property taxes owed on Hawaiian Home Lands homesteads. The council had recommended the state departments look at possibly swapping the parcels with another landowner, such as Alexander & Baldwin, for land closer to established infrastructure needed for the proposed projects.
* Olowalu: A motion to reconsider the committee's support of the master-planned Olowalu Town project failed. Cochran attempted to remove any development makai of the existing highway, but her motion did not have any backers.
The council previously included within the area's growth boundaries the 600-acre project that calls for 1,500 units, including 750 affordable housing units.
* Honolua/Lipoa Point: The committee again struggled over whether or not to designate Lipoa Point as a preservation area.
The committee had previously heard from West Maui state Rep. Angus McKelvey who asked members to keep Lipoa Point's existing agricultural designation as he works with state and federal lawmakers to try to drum up funding to acquire the land from Maui Land & Pineapple Co.
McKelvey said that Mayor Alan Arakawa is also negotiating at the county level to try to purchase Lipoa Point. That plan would require the nonprofit Save Honolua Coalition to raise $5 million to pitch in.
ML&P President Ryan Churchill had testified that the land has been posted as collateral for the company's employee pension fund. He cited concern that the land's value would drop if it were placed in preservation.
The committee on Wednesday considered adding language to the Maui Island Plan that would reflect the acquisition efforts at the county level.
But, after again hearing from Churchill, the committee voted against including the language over concerns that it could harm the appraised value of the land being used as collateral.
* Lahaina: The committee revisited its decision to include within the growth boundaries part of the state's controversial affordable housing project Villages of Leiali'i near the Lahaina Civic Center. The project is proposed on ceded lands.
The committee earlier this week had removed approximately 2,000 units from the project's proposed maximum of about 4,200 units. At least 50 percent of the units would have to be affordable, under the laws governing the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp., the state agency charged with overseeing affordable housing development.
The committee voted Wednesday to add back in some of the lands, which would allow for about 1,200 units total. The Lahaina bypass, now under construction, would intersect the proposed project, which the state has spent $29 million to date for on infrastructure.
Leiali'i dates back to 1990, when it was proposed as a 4,800-unit development. The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has since bought a portion of the project and has built 116 homes.
Plans for Leiali'i were halted in 1993 when the Office of Hawaiian Affairs sued because the project is sited on ceded lands. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that the state has the vested title on the lands.
But, the state Legislature has since created legislation that requires a supermajority in order for the state to sell ceded lands.
That means future homes built on the site would be sold as leasehold, unless the Legislature approves selling fee simple. The Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. has said the leasehold terms could possibly be 65 years or longer.
* Nanea Kalani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CORRECTION: The Maui County Council's General Plan Committee recommended approval Oct. 24 of directed-growth boundaries contained in the draft Maui Island Plan. The council will hold a public hearing on the plan before it advances to the full council for first reading on Dec. 7 and second reading on Dec. 21, according to Council Member Gladys Baisa, chairwoman of the council's General Plan Committee. The council-approved plan will then go to the desk of Mayor Alan Arakawa. Then, Community Plan Advisory Committees for all six of the county's community plan regions will draft plans for their areas, and, depending on the area, those plans will be reviewed by the Maui, Molokai or Lanai planning commissions, Baisa said.
A story published in The Maui News on Oct. 25 incorrectly reported the county's review process.
The Maui News apologizes for the error.