Molokai Planning Commission seeks to update rules

The Molokai Planning Commission, a board of volunteer residents tasked with reviewing land use ordinances and amendments, is seeking to revise and update its 25-year-old administrative rules.

While many of the revisions are “housekeeping measures” to bring the rules up to date with the Maui and Lanai planning commissions, the new rules also tighten the requirements for special management area permit applications, clarify when and where public notices must be published, and give the planning commission more power to enforce penalties for violations.

“Under the new rules, the commission can initiate enforcement and actually revoke the permit,” Maui County Administrative Planning Officer Joe Alueta said.

While the commission did have the power to issue violations and collect fines, they did not have the power to revoke a special management area permit.

“Whenever the commission has reason to believe that there has been a failure to perform according to conditions imposed or representations or commitments made, the commission shall issue and serve upon the party or person bound by the conditions, representations or commitments, an order to show cause why the permit should not be revoked, amended or modified,” the new rules say.

The order to show cause must be delivered in writing at least 30 days before a scheduled hearing.

The new rules also give the commission the power to charge higher fines for permit violations. Currently, the commission may charge a maximum initial fine of $10,000 per violation with an additional $1,000 per day for each day the violation persists. The new rules bump the fines up to a $100,000 initial fine and an additional $10,000 per day.

The new rules also require that notices of public hearing be published in a newspaper that is “printed and issued at least once weekly on the island of Molokai,” as long as such a paper exists. The Molokai Dispatch is the island’s only in-print newspaper and distributes an issue weekly. If no publication on Molokai is available, the notice shall be published in a newspaper that is printed and issued at least twice weekly in Maui County.

Other changes include address updates, tightening language so that a shoreline survey must be a state-certified shoreline survey, and procedural “tweaking,” Alueta said.

The Maui County Planning Department has been making small amendments to the existing rules constantly over the years, but this is the first time since 1999 that it has seen a major update, Alueta said.

A public hearing has been scheduled for noon March 12 at the state Department of Accounting and General Services Conference Room at 45 Makaena St., Kaunakakai.

If there are no changes made after the public hearing, the proposed rules must be approved by the mayor before being formally adopted.

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* Eileen Chao can be reached at