Private roads should be dedicated to county

Regarding The Maui News articles “Bill could help remedy speeding on Eha Street” (July 26) and “Mayor approves ‘common-sense changes’ to law” (July 31): I would like to provide some background and clarification.

First and foremost, Eha Street is not owned by Stanford Carr Development LLC. It was originally owned and developed by Hawaii Land & Farming Co. Inc. (formerly known as C. Brewer Homes). To the best of my knowledge, Eha Street was originally built to county standards at the time but was kept closed since formal dedication to the county had not yet been completed. However, with the development of the Wailuku Parkside neighborhood (adjacent to Eha Street) by Stanford Carr Development, the county required opening of this privately owned street to public traffic. Since then, many have benefited from its use at the expense of private ownership. Maintenance, utilities and liability still accrue to the landowner despite the public’s ongoing use of this travel way. The property was most recently transferred to a new entity, KLD Holdings LLC, because of the liability associated with its public use.

Efforts have been made over the years to dedicate Eha Street. However, the county’s existing policy of requiring roadways to be up to the current standards at the time of dedication has made the process infeasible. Such items as widening of sidewalks, upgrading underground drainage systems and reconstruction of wheelchair ramps and aprons are a few of the new items that the county has asked for in order to meet current standards. This is in addition to the cost of repaving, restriping, landscaping maintenance and repairs which, in the case of Eha Street, could add up to nearly a million dollars. Similar requirements have also been placed on streets at Wailuku Parkside, which have made pursuing dedication of roads infeasible.

Each month, streetlight bills, maintenance and insurance costs accrue to owners of private roads. With some roads, we’ve been burdened with these costs for close to 20 years. Eha Street has been cleared of debris and vegetation on many occasions over the years at the expense of several thousand dollars per effort.

Therefore, I am extremely supportive of new laws that can help the county in working with private road owners to complete the dedication process. Many privately owned roads were built concurrently with neighborhoods of which real property taxes are collected. A portion of these taxes should be set aside and used for ongoing road maintenance, utilities, repairs and/or upgrades despite the disposition of acceptance and dedication. To burden private owners of roads with this expense is unreasonable, especially when such roads have already been open to the public for many years of service.

* Stanford S. Carr is president of Stanford Carr Development LLC.