To protect farm land, open space and rural character and reduce infrastructure costs associated with new construction, the County of Maui officially favors "infill development."
That policy is reflected in General Plan ordinances, including the Countywide Policy Plan and Maui Island Plan, and in the county Water Code.
As chair of the County Council's Water Resources Committee, I want to work with my colleagues and the Department of Water Supply to effectuate that policy by amending the Water Code to clarify the definition of "infill development."
The Water Code currently exempts "infill development" from the county's Water Availability Policy, sometimes called the "Show Me the Water" ordinance. The exemption is intended to facilitate infill development.
The problem, according to the department, is that the Water Code's definition of "infill development" is too vague, resulting in uncertainty for developers. The committee met on June 18 and July 2 to work on a clearer definition.
Currently, the Water Code defines "infill development" as "a project composed of 10 or fewer residential dwelling units on one or more contiguous vacant parcels within already developed areas" in the Central Maui or West Maui water system.
A bill being considered by the committee would add to the definition by requiring availability of infrastructure and consistency with the General Plan and zoning.
The bill requires 75 percent of the property's perimeter to be bordered by developed land. At the July 2 meeting, some council members found this qualifier problematic as written, based on some examples that were presented.
Under the bill, parks and schools are considered developed land. Conservation and agricultural lands and beaches are not considered "developed."
I intend to schedule another meeting to consider the definition of infill development later this month. I have requested the department to provide visual depictions of different scenarios that demonstrate the complexities faced when interpreting the definition and considering whether to approve exemptions.
I want to thank my colleagues, the administration and the public for actively participating in developing this legislation. I encourage residents with concerns about infill development to work with the committee by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, referencing WR-11. Please feel free to include photos or maps.
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* Mike Victorino holds the council seat for the Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu residency area. He is the chair of the Water Resources Committee. "Chair's 3 Minutes" is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters.