Council LUC panel OKs development changes

With a list of conditions, the Maui County Council’s Land Use Committee on Wednesday recommended approval of community plan amendments and zoning changes to allow for the development of A&B Properties’ proposed 600-unit housing project in north Kihei.

At the heart of the panel’s discussion was how to alleviate traffic on the project’s main thoroughfare, Kaiwahine Street. The street already serves as a major access road to a subdivision, and the two developments would share Kaiwahine Street as an access to Piilani Highway.

To deal with the traffic impacts, the panel required that A&B have another in-and-out access point on the mauka side of the project, which will be near the county’s Hale Piilani Park, said Council Member Don Couch after the meeting.

Couch, who holds the South Maui residency seat, was particularly concerned about traffic issues raised by many testifiers at meetings over the past year. But after several meetings and lengthy discussions on the traffic issues, the panel recommended approval – with conditions – of a community plan amendment from agriculture to multifamily, single-family and commercial designations. The committee also recommended approval for a change in zoning from agriculture to apartment, residential and community business districts.

The project now heads to the full council for approval.

The $220 million project calls for building a range of housing from single-family homes to multifamily flats and townhouses. The project would cover about 94.3 acres mauka of Piilani Highway between Kaiwahine Street and Mokulele Highway.

Conceptual plans presented earlier this year included a 1.4-acre commercial center, which A&B’s representatives said may include a convenience store or small shops, and a 7-acre park with a neighborhood recreation center.

A&B officials have said that the company aims to have housing units range from $300,000 to $600,000 in price and targeted for sale to working families.

To address traffic concerns, Couch said that the committee required A&B to provide vehicular access points between the development and any future collector road or potential mauka bypass.

While still not happy about the project with its traffic issues, Couch said he voted in favor of the land use changes because many future developments in the area, when they are built, will allow A&B opportunities for more access to the project.

Couch said he liked the idea of affordable housing and noted that some residents in the area also said they wouldn’t mind waiting a little longer at a traffic signal if it meant more affordable housing.

A&B’s conceptual plan also proposes traffic improvements at the Kaiwahine Street and Piilani Highway intersection and another nearby road.

In another condition, the committee called for A&B to get started on the project in the next 10 years. If the developer does not move on the project by then, the council will bring back the developers for discussion on how to proceed, Couch said.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at