Pursuant to the the Maui County Charter, the General Plan Advisory Committee has spent several years putting together a County zoning plan to take us through 2030. The draft went to the Planning Commission, whose members proceeded to extend the urban growth boundaries to include a number of developments that otherwise would have had to seek a waiver from the County Council to proceed.

The Draft Plan already allowed for considerable growth in population, so I’m not clear as to what’s driving a couple of the Planning Commission’s actions, which included support for:

  • Oluwalu Town: the former sugar growing area is now home to about 20 families, a French restaurant, a general store, and one of the few stretches of undeveloped coastline that’s easily accessible. The development would add 1500 homes and a large retail core.
  • Pulelehua: this mixed use development would grow up the hillsides above the Honokowai area. The developer has put considerable effort into highlighting the parts of the project that include less expensive homes, condos, and rental apartments as an opportunity for local working class families to live and work on the west side. The original plan put homes and businesses right up the Kapalua Airport fence. The draft plan added over a 150 acres of buffer space around the airport, which the Planning Commission removed.

By removing the airport buffer, the County would implicitly be saying they want the airport, which is owned by the State, closed. Once people started moving into Pulehua, it’s inevitable that they’ll complain about the noise. I contend that the Planning Commission should explicitly address the issue.

For Olowalu, Planning Commissioner Hiranaga stated that he was moved by those of the 20 families asking for local job opportunities, and was taking a leap of faith that Olowalu Town LLC wasn’t going to screw up the local environment. I find the idea of driving a major project forward to save a handful of people a morning commute laughable, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re more interested in a rapid run up in the value of their lots when next door to a high end development.

Also, it’s not coincidental that the few non-degraded coral reefs lie off undeveloped beach fronts, such as Olowalu. Based on experience with all major development and redevelopment projects in west and south Maui over the last ten years, it is inevitable that Olowalu Town would lead to short term mud runoff into the reefs, and long term yard chemical and asphalt runoff feeding algae blooms, invasive sea weeds, and depleted fish populations.

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