Viewpoint: Community concerns should be addressed

Regarding the planned opening of Rock & Brews restaurant (The Maui News, June 11), the Paia Merchants Association would like to clarify its charter.

PMA was formed out of county efforts to establish community-based organizations that work in conjunction with residents, merchants and property owners to preserve the historical, cultural and economic vitality of Maui’s small towns. Association members work proactively to bring positive contributions to Paia and raise awareness of issues relevant to the community. Our mandate is to preserve the charm and character that distinguishes Paia as a distinctly north shore Maui town.

In this regard, the Paia Merchants Association is working with Maui County on the following goals:

* To support a much-needed update of the Paia-Haiku Country Town Design Guidelines and adoption of these into law.

* To develop ways to ensure proactive community input within Maui County’s permitting process for future Paia town developments.

* To advocate for essential municipal services such as trash collection, recycling, beautification, parking and security.

* To enrich the support of the many cultural, athletic and artistic opportunities within Paia town.

* To facilitate and encourage open communication between Maui County and Paia’s constituents.

Association members recognize that growth and change are inevitable, and hope new initiatives are thoughtfully managed in keeping with Paia’s legacy and special appeal. We understand that Paia is already very different from what existed 20 years ago, but hope for a recognizable future. Members are concerned that Paia could become a destination for formula-based businesses that may bring a wave of standardized formats to this unique town. We believe heavily commercialized operations which ignore the history and culture of Paia and Maui’s north shore threaten the very appeal and charm that attract businesses here in the first place.

The Paia Merchants Association would like to see the old Jacques space revitalized and a new addition brought to town. However, the concerns regarding Rock & Brews result from the community’s fear that this operation will conflict with Paia’s character, as well as great frustration in not having had an opportunity for input. We believe that the actual scope of this particular development, the demolition of an existing facility and construction of a new restaurant facility warrants formal community input. Furthermore, we believe that the format proposed and demonstrated by existing Rock & Brews units conflicts with Paia’s character.

Members of the Paia Merchants Association met with the Rock & Brews principals on two occasions, asking them to consider a public forum to exchange ideas and address community concerns. Unfortunately, they refused our invitation.

Now is the time for Rock & Brews officials to prove that they intend to be a good neighbor by allowing citizens to express their views – pro and con – through a public forum. The Paia Merchants Association asks that they reconsider our request and then listen to and address community concerns.

* Rose Potter is the executive director of the Paia Merchants Association.

* This opinion/viewpoint includes a correction from the original published on Saturday, June 22, 2013. Due to an editing error, an incorrect sentence was published in paragraph nine. The Maui News apologizes for the error.