Council approves Waikapu affordable housing project

In other action, Gladys Baisa was approved to lead Maui’s Department of Water Supply

An 80-unit affordable workforce housing project proposed for Waikapu, just down the road from Longs Drugs, Foodland and other businesses, was unanimously approved by the Maui County Council on Friday.

Maui County Council members unanimously adopted a resolution Friday to advance a fast-track workforce housing project for 80 affordable units in Waikapu.

The action came on an 8-0 vote, with Council Member Bob Carroll absent and excused.

Plans for Waikapu Development Venture’s project call for building 68 single-family homes, 12 duplex units and a neighborhood park on roughly half of a 25.6-acre parcel owned by Emmanuel Lutheran Church along Waiale Road, south of the Longs Drugs store.

The church has agreed to sell 12.5 acres to the developer after the property is subdivided. Emmanuel Lutheran plans a new church and school campus next door.

The housing mix includes three-bedroom, two-bath single-family homes ranging from 1,200 to 1,800 square feet. Duplexes would range from 700 to 900 square feet and have two bedrooms and one bathroom.

The project would be affordable to families earning from 70 to 140 percent of Maui’s median income, or from $56,980 to $113,960. Half of the homes would be for families earning 101 to 120 percent of median, or $81,400 to $97,680.

The council resolution approving the project requires construction to begin in two years and be completed in four years.

The Waikapu Development partners are Peter Horovitz, William Frampton and Vince Bagoyo.

According to a committee report, the Emmanuel Lutheran property has a state Land Use Commission order encumbering its use for purposes other than as a church or school. The developers discussed the matter with the commission in June, and they were directed to return to the state panel after council action on the affordable housing project. The developer reported the matter could return to the commission in January. If the commission approves the project, the sale will be able to close after the property is subdivided, the report says.

In other action, council members approved the appointment of former Council Member Gladys Baisa as director of the Department of Water Supply.

The Maui County Charter requires the water director or deputy to be a registered engineer. Baisa is not an engineer, but new Deputy Director Shayne Agawa is one. Previously, he served as an engineer in the Department of Public Works.

Baisa’s appointment required the confirmation of council members.

The water director position opened when former water Director Dave Taylor resigned to take an energy/capital improvements projects coordinator position with the county. His new position was part of a settlement of a lawsuit Taylor filed against the county and Mayor Alan Arakawa. The lawsuit alleged wrongful termination and defamation.

Council members voted 5-3, with Alika Atay, Elle Cochran and Kelly King in dissent, to approve a resolution authorizing the county’s $1.6 million acquisition of the Ueoka Building Condominium at 2103 Wells St. in Wailuku.

Atay and Cochran said they had unresolved questions about clouded property title and possible legal challenges, and King joined them in opposing the resolution.

The matter had been in the Policy, Economic Development and Agriculture Committee chaired by Council Member Yuki Lei Sugimura. She said the county Department of Finance and Title Guaranty Hawaii had no issues with the title of the Ueoka building.

The committee report said Title Guaranty’s preliminary report revealed no issues with the property’s title. However, a 1903 property exchange involving the Ueoka property and one in Waikapu could raise a “remote possibility” that someone could claim the Waikapu property and that such an action would trigger a reversion clause affecting the Ueoka property.

Nevertheless, the county determined the risk to be “negligible” and was moving ahead with the land deal, the committee report says.

Council members approved the settlement of a number of legal claims against the county.

One settlement was for $320,000 with Lexington Insurance Co. on behalf of the Kihei Sands Association of Apartment Owners. The insurance claim alleges damage to the Kihei Sands condominium from a leaking fire hydrant on March 26, 2015. Water flooded 15 ground-floor apartments, laundry and storage areas and an office, a committee report says.

Councilors approved on first reading a bill to establish a new chapter in the Maui County Code relating to conservation and land management. The measure drafted by Council Member Don Guzman would guide decision-making for purchasing or otherwise acquiring lands or property interests for land conservation. It also would establish procedures for long-term conservation planning and management of open spaces, natural and cultural resources and scenic views.

And, council members approved the appointment of Roberto Andrion to the Liquor Control Commission for a term expiring March 31, 2022. His appointment fills a vacancy on the panel left by the resignation of Nicole DeRego.

* Brian Perry can be reached at bperry@mauinews.com.

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