WAILUKU - A Maui Island Plan that restores protected areas for greenways and scenic corridors would make for a nice Christmas present from the Maui County Council, according to several residents who testified before the council Friday.
The council is working toward adopting the Maui Island Plan to guide future growth over the next two decades - a process 10 years in the making. The plan has been vetted by the council's General Plan Committee and recommended to the full council, which included the measure on its Friday meeting agenda.
But, lacking quorum, the council recessed the meeting until 9 a.m. Monday.
Earlier in the day, council members heard testimony from 40 individuals, with the majority focusing their comments on the Maui Island Plan.
"I hope you give us all a wonderful Christmas present," said good-government advocate Dick Mayer, who served as vice chairman of the General Plan Advisory Committee.
Mayer urged the council to amend the plan to once again include green beltways and scenic corridors on the regulatory maps.
Council Member Mike White had pushed for two greenways that would create buffers along highways in Upcountry and West Maui in an effort to preserve open space. The designations were aimed at prohibiting development in those buffer zones, which raised legal concerns over potential lawsuits from existing landowners, and prompted the council's General Plan Committee in October to remove the green space off of the directed growth maps.
"Those areas are areas that should be protected," Mayer said. "Just as when the GPAC, the Planning Commission and your earlier actions, you indicated that certain areas should be growth areas. At the same time, to balance that, there should be areas that are protected."
Irene Bowie, executive director of the Maui Tomorrow Foundation, echoed those concerns.
"We really, really need stronger language to have some kind of a balance between growth and green space," Bowie said. "I would just ask you, the council, to give the gift of a commitment to green space to Maui County for Christmas rather than letting this year pass as 'The Great Land Grab of 2012.'"
Some testifiers described the current plan as "all growth and no green," while others said that the threat of lawsuits shouldn't prevent the council from including preservation areas on the maps.
In addition to restoring green space, the remaining testimony was mostly in opposition to the planned 1,500-unit Olowalu Town project and the inclusion of 390 acres surrounding Makena Resort's golf course within the island's growth boundaries.
Marine biologists and ocean users have argued developer Frampton & Ward's planned Olowalu Town project would cause irreparable harm to the Olowalu reef and coastline. Others have bemoaned the potential traffic impacts.
Developer Bill Frampton reiterated his commitment to ensure the reef is protected - both during and after construction through mitigation technologies.
"We are here to protect the reef. We're here for the long-term preservation, and we are committed to do so," he said.
With regard to Makena Resort, Bowie noted that the property already holds development entitlements for about 1,000 acres and 2,000 housing units. She said that would certainly keep the developer busy over the next two decades that the Maui Island Plan would dictate.
Bowie also noted that the developer has yet to make good on existing conditions on its previous entitlements.
The council's General Plan Committee had struggled over what to do with the 390-acre parcel, having reversed its decision several times.
In other testimony, officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands again asked the council to reconsider the decision not to include any of the 939 acres of state land in Pulehunui within the growth boundary.
State officials noted that they have since reduced their request to 470 acres - 285 acres for the DLNR and 185 acres for DHHL.
The council has a Dec. 31 deadline to take action on the Maui Island Plan, which will still require approval from the mayor.
* Nanea Kalani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.