Council committee votes against permits for Lona Ridge events

The Maui News

A Maui County Council committee on Wednesday recommended rejecting a conditional permit to hold commercial events, such as weddings, atop Wailuku Heights.

The Land Use Committee voted 9-0 to file the bill, which would have granted Leona Rocha Wilson, owner of Lona Ridge, a permit to conduct the special events on her 5.75-acre property at 588 Kulaiwi Drive. The property includes her residence — a five-bedroom, 8,032-square-foot dwelling — and a swimming pool.

Council members said their vote against the permit was nothing against Wilson and her community outreach, in which she has opened her home to many nonprofits, children’s and seniors’ groups and veterans. But council members were concerned about how the neighborhood would be affected.

The permit issue created a clash between Wilson and her neighbors who opposed the permit. Neighbors feared an increase in traffic and drunken drivers. They also did not want commercial activities in the neighborhood and pointed to the Wailuku Heights covenants and codes that don’t allow commercial activities.

Wilson has said she wants to generate income from the property to support hosting community programs and nonprofit groups at Lona Ridge, which she has been doing for years.

The committee conducted three meetings deliberating on the matter. The initial meeting on July 19 attracted more than 50 testifiers. About half supported and half opposed the permit, with most of the opposition coming from neighbors.