Over the last three days has been extensive coverage of new development issues in the Maui News. There were specific stories on proposed subdivisions in Hali’imaile and Ma’alaea as well as more general stories on community planning and the total number of homes projected to be built on island based on proposed and approved subdivisions.
The Hali’imaile article announced a meeting scheduled for Wednesday of this week. Consultants working on the project are to present detailed designs for the mixed use community based on the latest feedback from community planning meetings held in March of this year. The meeting is to be held from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at the Hali’imaile gymnasium. The 600 acre development by Alexander and Baldwin and Maui Land and Pineapple is still in the planning stages.
Ma’alaea Mauka is a proposed development that has been given an icy reception by the county planning department. The property would add 949 residences to the island. County planning director Mike Foley sent a letter to the developer indicating that he would strongly oppose reclassifying the land from agricultural to urban. The shift in land designation is one of a number of steps necessary for the project to move forward. Foley was concerned about the loss of agricultural land and the impact on schools, roads and sewage treatment facilities. It appears that this project will have a long uphill battle for approval.
While individual projects are making the headlines, so are efforts to develop the community plan for Maui. There was a “WalkStory” session held jointly by the planning department and Focus Maui Nui. The planning session was attended by over 150 participants. The planning session uses interactive games and other means to solicit opinions and input from members of the community for the 2030 community plan. The community plan will set parameters for future development on Maui. Those parameters will be backed in part by legislation.
While these efforts are important to shaping Maui’s future, the planning department has some challenges. In a meeting held last Friday, members of the planning department revealed that long range approvals could allow for as many as 17,000 new residential units on Maui. Members of the commision were somewhat alarmed by this number, but a little bit of perspective is in order. Many of the projects have build outs that will take 20 years and a number of the projects are dormant. The number of new units that will be built will be determined in part by the real estate market. While demand has been high over the last 5 years, increases in interest rates could limit future market demand further curbing the number of units.