Final decision on school’s zoning changes deferred

The Maui County Council deferred making a final decision Friday on zoning and community plan changes for the 77 acres of the proposed Kihei high school while the council awaits on a unilateral agreement to be recorded by the state Bureau of Conveyances.

The measure will change zoning and Kihei-Makena Community Planned designations for the site, owned by the state, from agriculture to public use.

The agreement is expected to be in hand in order for the measure to be heard at the June 20 council meeting, said Council Vice Chairman Robert Carroll, whose Land Use Committee initially heard the request.

Bills setting out the zoning and community plan changes were passed on first reading by the council on May 27.

Although community members are pleased that work is proceeding to make way for the new high school, some are concerned about the school’s location, mauka of the busy four-lane Piilani Highway. The highway separates the school from the Piilani Village subdivision makai, where many residents and their children live.

At their May 27 meeting, council members agreed that there was a need for an underpass rather than a traffic signal across the main thoroughfare that runs through Kihei and ends in Wailea.

After Friday’s council meeting, Carroll said that the state Department of Transportation knows about the council members’ concerns.

He said he was starting to make contacts with different state departments and legislators to try and find money to fund design of an underpass.

The state Department of Education has not revealed its plans for student and parent access across Piilani Highway, but public school officials said they are aware of the safety concerns and held numerous meetings with the state Office of Planning, the Department of Transportation and county officials regarding appropriate highway and road improvements.

In granting the DOE its request for reclassification of the school’s 77 acres from agricultural to urban last year, the state Land Use Commission added an amendment requiring a pedestrian and bicycle overpass or underpass for Piilani Highway.

Hawaii legislators have approved $130 million for the first phase of the high school’s two-phase project. The school is expected to open in 2018 at the completion of the first phase, which includes classroom buildings, a library, a cafeteria and administrative, student center and athletics facilities.

In other matters Friday, council members approved a time extension for the Lanai Planning Commission to review the draft Lanai Community Plan. The original due date was July 7 for the commission to transmit the advisory committee’s recommended revisions and the planning commission’s findings and recommendations. With the approved resolution, the deadline has been moved to Oct. 31.

The item was waived from committee referral and taken up at the full council Friday because of time restraints.

The council approved a resolution to place on the 2014 general election ballot a measure to continue the county’s affordable housing fund beyond fiscal year 2015. Now, the Maui County Charter requires the council to appropriate a minimum of 2 percent of the certified real property tax revenues to the affordable housing fund when adopting budgets for fiscal years 2008 through 2015. The resolution asks voters whether the program can be continued into fiscal 2021.

The fund supports affordable housing development and suitable living environments for low-income and gap-group residents.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at