Hart to divest stake in company before joining mayor’s staff

Deputy planning director hopes to take up his new post mid-February

JORDAN HART, Delay in taking position

Incoming Deputy Planning Director Jordan Hart has not yet taken his position in the Michael Victorino mayoral administration as he works to divest himself of the company his father founded, which is involved in land-use planning and landscape architecture.

Hart has been the owner of Chris Hart & Partners in Wailuku since 2011, purchasing the company from his dad, former Planning Director Chris Hart, who founded the company in 1991. The elder Hart died in November 2012.

Because his company worked closely with the Planning Department on projects for clients, Hart is selling his ownership stake. The company, which has seven employees, will continue to operate under the leadership of longtime workers, he said Thursday.

County Director of Communications Brian Perry said Tuesday that Hart will be requesting an opinion from the county Board of Ethics “about potential conflicts of interest, and how he will avoid them while serving as deputy director.”

Hart said Thursday that “leaving the private sector was a tough decision.”

“I will have to make some sacrifices to participate, but community service has always been emphasized in our family,” he said. “After serious discussion with my wife, I decided this was a good time to pursue county service, and I am thankful Mayor Victorino has provided me the opportunity to make my contribution.”

Victorino announced the appointment of Hart as deputy planning director on Dec. 17. Unlike his boss, acting Director Michele McLean, Hart’s appointment does not require the confirmation of the County Council.

Perry said that Hart has not been sworn in as deputy planning director and officially does not yet work for the county, though his name appears on the county website as the deputy with an email link.

Hart is expected to begin in his county position in mid-February, Perry said.

Hart said that he has worked on all types of projects — government plans, regional developments, local families trying to get a simple permit for their home, “and just about everything else in-between.”

Projects his company has been involved with include R.D. Olson’s 110-unit Hotel Ike in Wailea, the 129-unit workforce housing complex Kamaole Point and the Pi’ilani Promenade, a housing, light industrial, office and retail development. The company website lists the South Maui Regional Park, the Shops at Wailea and the Opukea condominium project in Lahaina as projects.

“From the private sector I have enjoyed working with the staff of the Planning Department and other related agencies while completing projects for clients,” Hart said. “I am looking forward to joining these same people at the county, with the community as our client.”

Hart said he has been mentored by longtime county staff planners and directors, who provided him “with context for a better understanding of our land-use guidance system and how it has evolved over time.”

“They also instilled in me that land-use planning is about people,” he said.

As the deputy planning director, Hart said he would like to help accelerate the completion of the county’s community plan updates and improve the service provided by the department by “generally having more empathy for the people the department interacts with.”

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.

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