Maui Real Estate Blog

New Maui Planning Director Shares Views

In an article in yesterday’s Maui News, new Maui County Planning Director Jeff Hunt shares his views on issues he will be facing in his new position. With a new Maui county general plan being prepared, new developments on the drawing board and other issues such as vacation rental zoning, Hunt will have a full plate.

First and foremost in his discussion was new development. The county is in the midst of a ten year project to revise the county general plan. The general plan has always provided guidelines for new development on Maui. The significance of the revised plan will be even greater as legislative teeth have been created to enforce the plan. Maui County Bill 84 was passed to help ensure the plan is adhered to when it is completed. The one concern has been that many developers would try to push through new developments prior to the plan’s completion . Hunt warns that proposed new developments will be strongly scrutinized prior the the plan’s completion. Projects that require community plan amendments will need to have significant affordable housing components or offer major improvements to the county infrastructure. Otherwise, they will face opposition from the planning department. Overall, Hunt established a position that new growth shall be directed by the feedback of the community.

Another hot button issue Hunt discussed was vacation rentals. Most of the areas zoned for vacation rentals are in areas closer to Maui’s traditional resorts. Residents and home owners in other parts of the island such as the North Shore and Upcountry have responded to a demand for off the beaten path rentals by starting their own vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts. Some in the county have targeted non permitted vacation rentals as a contributor to the county’s affordable housing issues. This has led to calls by some for more active enforcement of zoning laws. Hunt takes the stand that the county vacation rental policies need clarification before the county begins enforcing policies. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as his stance is different from new Mayor Charmaine Tavares who is among those calling for active enforcement of existing laws.

Last but not least, the article discusses other improvements to the planning department proposed by Hunt. Hunt would like to work on streamlining permitting and enforcement. Both areas have been cited as problematic in reviews of the planning department. The MauiRealEstate.com Blog will continue to follow planning and growth issues as concerned citizens and to keep our clients abreast of happenings with the Maui Real Estate market.

Pete Jalbert

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