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Council OKs land use changes for A&B housing project

Panel also adopts resolution to end parking concession for Moku‘ula group

Land use entitlements for a portion of Alexander & Baldwin’s Waikapu residential community received final approval Friday by the Maui County Council.

The council approved on second and final reading measures to amend the Wailuku-Kahului Community plan from agricultural district to Waiale Project District South, along with zoning changes from agricultural district to Waiale Project District South (conditional zoning) and to establish permissible land uses, standards of development and allocation of land for the project.

The bills affect nearly 123 acres at the corner of Kuihelani Highway and East Waiko Road. The project is the first phase of A&B’s 545-acre Waiale master-planned community. The north phase of the project will be developed later.

On the south portion of the project, plans call for construction of up to 950 single-family and multifamily homes, with parks, open space and commercial areas. Construction costs are estimated to be more than $219 million.

The project’s next step is to work with the county Department of Planning on the subdivision’s neighborhood design, A&B Properties Vice President Grant Chun  said. The layout and design portions will need to go before the Maui Planning Commission for review and approval, he said.

He added that in the next two to three years, A&B hopes to put up some homes in the first phase and to submit paperwork for permits needed for the north portion of the project.

In May 2012, the state Land Use Commission voted to reclassify more than 500 acres in Waikapu for the Waiale community. The overall project called for building 2,250 homes, commercial areas, a middle school, public facilities and parks in an area bisected by East Waiko Road with Kuihelani Highway to the east and Honoapiilani Highway to the west.

In other action, council members adopted a resolution to end a parking lot concession on county property in Lahaina by the Friends of Moku’ula. The nonprofit was formed to restore and preserve the historic Moku’ula island and Mokuhinia pond, which was a Hawaiian royal residence.

A committee report questioned the group’s financial management and its responsiveness to community and council inquiries about the concession.

The report added that the group’s executive director reported Nov. 29 that the organization has had trouble documenting the use of concession funds since 2003.

Executive Director Blossom Feiteira told the committee that an internal audit showed that the group used parking lot concession money for administration and operations.

“She acknowledged the organization did not adequately spend the money the way they were supposed to for the first 10 years,’ “ the report said.

Documents provided to the committee suggest that the organization directed parking proceeds to its for-profit Ka Lua O Kiha and that the two entities share employees, operating costs and board members. The report notes that parking concession proceeds were supposed to be used only for “restoration and preservation purposes.”

Testifying before the council on Friday, Feiteira said she was in support of the resolution to end the parking concession with the group.

“I think the time has come for financial accountability to be put in place,” she said. “To make my job as an (executive director) easy.”

Feiteira supported first-reading passage of a bill to establish a Hawaiian Cultural Restoration Revolving Fund for the deposit of all proceeds from the parking concession.

According to council documents, the fund shall be used for the “preservation and restoration of Hawaiian historic and cultural artifacts and sites in the county, including the Mokuhinia ecosystem restoration project.”

The concession would be under the control and management of the county or the county’s designee, the documents said.

The measure passed first reading Friday. It requires another council vote for final passage.

Testifier Tama Kaleleiki told council members not to give any more money to the Friends group, calling them “irresponsible and negligent.”

He pointed to the failure to report parking concession finances to the county and the community.

“It’s too late to ask for any patience and understanding from the county,” Kaleleiki said.

He also asked the county to recoup any county money that the organization may have as well as pursue legal action against Friends of Moku’ula for mismanagement.

Another testifier, Mahina Martin, said it’s important “to keep the funding going” to help protect and preserve Moku’ula and Mokuhinia.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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