County Creates Three New Zoning Classifications

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Last week, the Maui News reported that the Maui County Council had voted to create three new classifications of rural zoning. The quick blurb on the approval and a previous article discussing preliminary approval of the bill left some of our clients and regular blog readers with questions. I did a little digging this week to get clarification on the law and its implications.

Much of the property located in the rural areas of Maui is zoned agricultural. Some of this land has been in agricultural production historically, while other agriculturally zoned properties have never been used for agriculture. Agricultural zoning doesn’t always reflect the agricultural potential of the land. For example, there are agricultural lots that are complete jungle and there are lots that are 90% steep and unusable. As large scale Sugar and Pineapple has scaled back on Maui, a number of the bigger agricultural parcels were converted into smaller two acre lots. Those two acre lots were created to meet a growing demand for housing in the rural areas of the island. Most of the new two acre lots are not being used for any sort of agriculture. The owners have no intention of farming, they just like having more land and a more rural location.

While many owners of ag properties have no intention to farm, the county currently zoning makes them jump through hoops as if they were actual farmers. In order to build, owners may be required to submit farm plans. The farm plans created are often farcical. Let’s just say there are a whole lot of sod farms in Haiku and Launiupoko. County planning spends a good bit of time processing and reviewing farm plans that are never actually implemented.

What this bill does
Plain and simple, the county council created the three new types of rural zoning. There are no lands that have had their zoning changed from agricultural to rural yet. Existing ag zoned lots are not automatically converted to rural zoning. It does set the stage for lands to be recategorized in the future. Owners would need to go through a rezoning process. In essence, the bill gives a new tool to county planners and property owners. It allows them to appropriately zone rural land that is not suited or intended to be used for farming.

What it doesn’t do
The Maui News article on the preliminary passage of this bill created some confusion. The article stated that, “A parcel in one of the new rural zoning categories would be restricted to one single-family housing unit…” I discussed this with Realtors Association of Maui Government Affairs director Dave Deleon. Currently, Rural Zoned lots are allowed an accessory dwelling. That’s zoning speak for a cottage or what we often call an ohana in Hawaii. Two, five or ten acre rural lots would be allowed to also have accessory dwellings. Based on the lot size, accessory dwellings up to 1,000 would be permitted under these new zoning classifications.

This is our understanding of the new zoning bill. If we learn of anything else related to the new rural zoning classifications or related legislation, we will keep you updated on The Maui Real Estate blog. As always, feel free to Contact The Maui Real Estate Team with questions or for assistance buying or selling Maui Real Estate.

Published August 31, 2011 Note this bill was never implemented

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