Housing and farm proposed for Upcountry

The Hoku Nui Maui development proposes to combine market-priced and fast-tracked affordable housing, farming and a hula halau facility for kumu hula Keali’i Reichel’s Halau Ke’alaokamaile on 258 acres abutting the intersection of Piiholo Road and Makawao Avenue and mauka of St. Joseph Catholic Church.

The project has completed a draft environmental assessment. The state Office of Environmental Quality Control published it as part of the April 23 issue of its “Environmental Notice.” Public comments are due May 23. (To download the project’s environmental review, go to health.hawaii.gov/oeqc, click on “Current Environmental Notice” and find the project listing.)

The project’s housing plans call for building 43 homes – 20 1-acre house lots, each with a market-priced dwelling and an affordable accessory dwelling, and one farm lot with one market- and two affordably priced units. The 20 lots are set aside for clustered housing development, leaving 238 acres for a farm lot dedicated in perpetuity to agriculture and native Hawaiian habitat, according to the project’s plans.

“The cluster housing format helps to address housing needs to support agriculture, as well as to meet the needs of Maui’s working families,” according to the environmental assessment.

Each of the 20 1-acre lots would be under a condominium property regime allowing for separate ownership of the market-priced and affordable units.

Because 2 acres is the minimum lot size for agriculturally zoned lands, the project developer is seeking exemptions under Hawaii’s fast-track affordable housing law to allow for smaller lots.

Developers propose selling 22 homes to households earning from 81 percent to 160 percent of Maui County’s median income. The current median income for a family of four is $75,100.

“The affordable housing proposed to be located around a large farm lot dedicated to agriculture and native Hawaiian habitat will encourage a ‘live-work’ lifestyle without traffic commutes,” the assessment says. “An on-site farm market and commercial kitchen will provide fresh and readily accessible products using the ‘farm-to-table’ concept of purchasing locally grown food directly from the source.”

The $40 million project would develop market- and affordably priced homes at the same time. The construction of homes and other structures could begin as early as 2017 and be completed in 2019.

Other project plans include a 1-acre market and commercial kitchen. Its hours of operation would be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“The market will display and sell agricultural products grown and processed within the Hoku Nui Maui community project area or grown by other farmers in the county,” the assessment says.

The 6,000-square-foot market and an “on-demand” commercial kitchen would be used by members of the community to market and process agricultural products grown on site. There would be enough parking to comply with Maui County Code requirements.

The project also seeks to integrate cultural elements as part of its master plan, according to the assessment.

Three acres would be set aside for Reichel’s award-winning hula halau, a nonprofit launched in 1980. The school has 140 students of all ages and focuses on Hawaiian cultural practices of dance, language, poetry, chant and fine arts. The halau has won numerous awards from the King Kamehameha Hula and Chant Competition and the Merrie Monarch Festival.

The halau facility would be a 3,600-square-foot building designed to accommodate up to 30 students and their supporters at a time.

The property already has livestock grazing on 250 acres, but that would be reduced to 120 acres when development begins, according to the assessment. Livestock would include cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens that would rotate throughout pastures using a “regenerative agricultural approach.”

“This approach uses integrative, regenerative farm practices that help to build soil health and regenerate unhealthy soil,” the assessment says. “Two barn structures of approximately 2,500 square feet each are proposed to accommodate food crop and farm animal . . . operations.”

The exact locations of the barns have not yet been determined.

Farm labor dwellings may be sought, if needed.

The draft assessment says about 118 acres would be reserved for native habitat, open space, greenways and access areas. Other “passively utilized areas” include gulches, potential storm water basins and lined or natural drainage swales.

Plans call for site improvements including interior roadways, site grading, water and wastewater systems. Limited improvements would be made to Piiholo Road and a water well would be developed from an existing site on the property.

Public comments should be sent to the county Department of Housing and Human Concerns, One Main Plaza, Suite 546, 2200 Main St., Wailuku 96793. Copies should be mailed to the applicant Hoku Nui Maui LLC, P.O. Box 1347, Makawao 96768; and to project consultant Munekiyo & Hiraga, 305 S. High St., Suite 104, Wailuku 96793.