Planning panel approves Kihei B&B’s permit

WAILUKU – Maui Planning Commission members approved a permit Tuesday for the Aloha Aku Inn to operate a six-bedroom, bed-and-break-fast business near St. Theresa Church in Kihei.

Bed-and-breakfast permits are now handled administratively, but inn business owners Charlene Schulenburg and Gary Passon faced a complication with the Maui County Code because their main dwelling at 1390 S. Kihei Road has five kitchens.

The County Code allows only one kitchen in a bed-and-breakfast operation, but Schulenburg and Passon were initially told that they could be in compliance if they pulled stoves out of the kitchens, officials said. In a reversal, they were later told that the kitchens still would be kitchens, even without stoves, and they would need to get a variance from the one-kitchen-only requirement from the Board of Variances and Appeals.

That happened in September. Then, because the Kihei bed-and-breakfast had detoured onto the variance route, its application was required by the County Code to go before the planning commission for review.

When the bed-and-breakfast application went before the panel Tuesday, there was no opposition. An anonymous letter in opposition was received earlier by the Planning Department. A neighbor complained that the property was being used for private weddings on state land.

In response, the applicants, through their planning consultant, said that the property’s prior owner may have allowed wedding parties. But Schulenburg and Passon have not done so since purchasing the property in late 2010.

The Aloha Aku Inn proposal calls for six bedrooms for use by visitors in two dwellings on the apartment-zoned property, which has eight parking stalls for guests.

The Rev. Monsignor Terrence Watanabe, pastor at St. Theresa Church, submitted written testimony in favor of the proposed bed-and-breakfast.

Schulenburg and Passon have partnered with the church, opening their home and property for nonprofit and other fundraisers, and they have served on a number of community boards, giving generously of their time and resources, Watanabe said.

“They intend on continuing that aloha spirit,” he said. “They are upstanding citizens, strive to do the right thing and share their good fortune, including their home with the community.

“Aloha Aku Inn would be a great addition to the area and will bring in people from all over the world where they can experience a stress-free, nonresort, family-style visit on Maui,” Watanabe said.

In other action, the commission recommended passage of two measures for land-use changes to allow property owners to do renovations on as many as three dwellings on their 2-acre property at 101 Kuau Place near Tavares Bay in Kuau.

Philip Kai, one of the owners, said the property had been in interim zoning before there was “blanket zoning” of the area as agricultural without the owners’ knowledge or notification. The rezoning meant that when the owners went for permits to do home renovations they discovered they couldn’t do so because their new zoning was “illegal” and “nonconforming” to their home improvement plans, he said.

Kai said the owners had no plans to develop the area or increase its density.

Commission members recommended that the County Council approve two bills for the Kuau Place property. The measures would amend the Paia-Haiku Community Plan and change the property’s zoning from agricultural to rural.

And, in a follow-up to a Nov. 13 commission meeting, panel members approved a written order denying the Wahikuli Neighborhood Association’s and three residents’ requests to intervene in the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) application for special use and special management area permits to demolish the existing single-story church and to build a new one as well as to provide 36 parking stalls at 1518 Malo St. in Lahaina.

The association and residents raised objections about the project’s traffic and parking impacts, drainage, obstruction of views and noncompliance with setback and height requirements, among others.

At the November meeting, the commission denied the intervention request, finding that the residents’ raising objections did not demonstrate that they would be directly and immediately affected by the church’s plans and that their interest is clearly distinguishable from the general public’s.

Commission members also approved the church’s requests for permits for its project.

The would-be interveners were advised of their right to file an appeal of the denial with 2nd Circuit Court.

Wailuku attorney Lance Collins filed a written objection to the commission’s order in the case, but the letter was dismissed as being vague and not specifying its legal objections.

The commission also approved a state land use special use permit for a four-bedroom short-term rental operation at 110 Apau Place in Makawao.

* Brian Perry can be reached at