The Maui News: “Council OKs land use changes for A&B housing project”

Council OKs land use changes for A&B housing project

Panel also adopts resolution to end parking concession for Moku‘ula group

Land use entitlements for a portion of Alexander & Baldwin’s Waikapu residential community received final approval Friday by the Maui County Council.

The council approved on second and final reading measures to amend the Wailuku-Kahului Community plan from agricultural district to Waiale Project District South, along with zoning changes from agricultural district to Waiale Project District South (conditional zoning) and to establish permissible land uses, standards of development and allocation of land for the project.

The bills affect nearly 123 acres at the corner of Kuihelani Highway and East Waiko Road. The project is the first phase of A&B’s 545-acre Waiale master-planned community. The north phase of the project will be developed later.

On the south portion of the project, plans call for construction of up to 950 single-family and multifamily homes, with parks, open space and commercial areas. Construction costs are estimated to be more than $219 million.

The project’s next step is to work with the county Department of Planning on the subdivision’s neighborhood design, A&B Properties Vice President Grant Chun  said. The layout and design portions will need to go before the Maui Planning Commission for review and approval, he said.

He added that in the next two to three years, A&B hopes to put up some homes in the first phase and to submit paperwork for permits needed for the north portion of the project.

In May 2012, the state Land Use Commission voted to reclassify more than 500 acres in Waikapu for the Waiale community. The overall project called for building 2,250 homes, commercial areas, a middle school, public facilities and parks in an area bisected by East Waiko Road with Kuihelani Highway to the east and Honoapiilani Highway to the west.

In other action, council members adopted a resolution to end a parking lot concession on county property in Lahaina by the Friends of Moku’ula. The nonprofit was formed to restore and preserve the historic Moku’ula island and Mokuhinia pond, which was a Hawaiian royal residence.

A committee report questioned the group’s financial management and its responsiveness to community and council inquiries about the concession.

The report added that the group’s executive director reported Nov. 29 that the organization has had trouble documenting the use of concession funds since 2003.

Executive Director Blossom Feiteira told the committee that an internal audit showed that the group used parking lot concession money for administration and operations.

“She acknowledged the organization did not adequately spend the money the way they were supposed to for the first 10 years,’ “ the report said.

Documents provided to the committee suggest that the organization directed parking proceeds to its for-profit Ka Lua O Kiha and that the two entities share employees, operating costs and board members. The report notes that parking concession proceeds were supposed to be used only for “restoration and preservation purposes.”

Testifying before the council on Friday, Feiteira said she was in support of the resolution to end the parking concession with the group.

“I think the time has come for financial accountability to be put in place,” she said. “To make my job as an (executive director) easy.”

Feiteira supported first-reading passage of a bill to establish a Hawaiian Cultural Restoration Revolving Fund for the deposit of all proceeds from the parking concession.

According to council documents, the fund shall be used for the “preservation and restoration of Hawaiian historic and cultural artifacts and sites in the county, including the Mokuhinia ecosystem restoration project.”

The concession would be under the control and management of the county or the county’s designee, the documents said.

The measure passed first reading Friday. It requires another council vote for final passage.

Testifier Tama Kaleleiki told council members not to give any more money to the Friends group, calling them “irresponsible and negligent.”

He pointed to the failure to report parking concession finances to the county and the community.

“It’s too late to ask for any patience and understanding from the county,”Kaleleiki said.

He also asked the county to recoup any county money that the organization may have as well as pursue legal action against Friends of Moku’ula for mismanagement.

Another testifier, Mahina Martin, said it’s important “to keep the funding going” to help protect and preserve Moku’ula and Mokuhinia.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at

The Maui News: “Budget panel supports proposal to acquire land in A&B business park”

Budget panel supports proposal to acquire land in A&B business park

WAILUKU – The Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee recommended passage of a resolution Tuesday that would allow the county to move forward with its proposal to buy about 4 acres in Alexander & Baldwin’s Maui Business Park II in Kahului.

The deal also involves a 30-acre land donation in Paia for the county to expand Baldwin Beach Park along the north shore.

“This service center issue has been discussed for over two years, and it’s time for us to get moving,” committee Chairman Mike White said. “It’s certainly an outstanding proposal when you consider the gift of the land we’ve been after for quite some time.”

The Maui Business Park II space is one of three proposals the council has been mulling over since April in efforts to find a new service center location. County officials have said that the Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing, the Real Property Tax Division and the Treasury Collections offices, currently housed at the Maui Mall, need to be moved because the new owners of the mall envision commercial uses for the space.

Mayor Alan Arakawa also has said that there is better value for the county if it builds its own center because the county pays more than $475,000 annually in rent for the Maui Mall space.

“This is a win-win, and an excellent opportunity for the community in several ways,” resident Jonathan Starr testified Tuesday. “We know that the lease existence in the Maui Mall is untenable, and we need to move forward and now, with the best bond rating we’ve seen in the state and historically low interest rates, now is the time to move forward.”

Other testifiers expressed support for the purchase, and the attached 30-acre land donation in Paia.

“I grew up surfing Baldwin Beach. It’s a beautiful stretch of land and important to my community and my friends,” said Peahi resident Pat Simmons Jr. “I hope to see that land preserved for future generations, hopefully my kids and my kids’ kids will enjoy that land someday.”

But Council Member Riki Hokama expressed concern with tying the purchase of 4 acres in the Maui Business Park with the 30-acre land donation. He was the only council member who voted against advancing the resolution to the full council.

“While I agree with you that this deal has merits . . . I would prefer the gift be separated out. For me, I don’t like the taste that gives me . . . that the county can be bought,” Hokama said.

He added that the purchase was “a hell of a lot more land than we need for the stated purposes,” and he suggested the county consider the possibility of selling some of the land and “using that money for public needs.”

But separating the land donation from the 4-acre purchase is a proposal that has not yet been fully vetted, and White said, in response to Hokama’s comments, that “life isn’t always that easy to separate into clear issues.

“This is a situation where acquisition and construction will allow us to offset ongoing costs, and I think that’s the only reason we’re looking at moving forward, because we’re in a position to create such a structure that will allow us to save money,” White said.

Advancing the proposal does not mean the council would stop considering the other proposals “in due course,” White said.

The council also is considering:

* 3 acres in the Maui Lani Village Center for approximately $14 million that would include “turn-key” construction of a 24,000-square-foot two-story building. The cost includes $5.3 million for the land; $8.1 million for construction of the building, and $600,000 for architectural and engineering costs.

* 5 acres for $6.6 million at the Kehalani Village Center in Wailuku. Landowner RCFC Kehalani would donate a nearby 14-acre parcel at the corner of Waiale Road and Kuikahi Drive.

Arakawa had said in a committee meeting Aug. 1 that he would like the county to purchase both the A&B Maui Business Park II and the Kehalani Village Center site packages, though if he had to choose just one, it would be the A&B property in Kahului.

In other action Tuesday, the committee recommended passage of a measure to advance Haiku Community Association $75,000, or half of its total $150,000 grant, up front for needed repairs to Kalakupua playground at Giggle Hill in Haiku. While the county typically grants only 25 percent of grant money in advance to project implementation – with the rest to be paid in reimbursements – the association has said it could not afford fronting the money for the repairs.

“We are a small community association. We’re not a for-profit business,” said Netra Halperin, who serves as co-chairwoman of the association’s playground committee. While volunteers have managed to fundraise $26,000 for the project, the biggest hurdle is the playground’s footing, or ground surfacing, which is slated to cost about $60,000.

Halperin and others asked for a “cash grant” with 100 percent of the grant money paid up front, promising “we’d be responsible stewards of that money.”

Council members agreed to advance 50 percent of the grant as a compromise, saying that as long as the association provided its receipts, reimbursements would be expedited.

“I think 50 percent is a great compromise, because at least they’ll have money to do what they need to do. If they get their receipts in, we’ll provide their reimbursements ASAP,” said Council Chairwoman Gladys Baisa.

Council Member Mike Victorino rallied for the cause.

“We don’t want to hold these people back in any way, shape or form,” he said. “We want to get these repairs done in the next six months at the most, so we can have these kids back on the playground.”

The playground was closed two years ago for safety reasons.

* Eileen Chao can be reached at