Poor planning may doom important wetlands parcel

I was saddened to read the Nov. 10 article on the proposed Maui Medical Plaza at Kanaha. Having followed this project closely. I remember some Maui planning commissioners reluctantly voting in favor only because it would be a place of healing. Now we learn that a major retailer is interested in the property.

With all its zoning approvals in place, this parcel could soon become yet one more commercial building with vacant space – a sad end to an important piece of Maui’s disappearing wetlands.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believed that the state wildlife preserve at Kanaha was essential for the preservation of Hawaii’s endemic waterfowl.

The county’s Planning Department also had concerns that the project’s construction activities would result in irreparable damages to the immediate site and potentially the entire Kanaha Pond Wildlife Sanctuary.

Unfortunately, all of this was ignored and the Army Corps issued a permit to fill the site, and the Maui Planning Commission granted the necessary approvals.

Maui Tomorrow tried throughout this year to preserve this parcel as a passive park and buffer to the greater Kanaha wetland, which holds some of the largest concentrations of endangered Hawaiian coot and Hawaiian stilt on Maui. We asked the landowners to consider a fair price for the parcel with the added benefit of preserving open space in Central Maui while safeguarding an important habitat area for wildlife.

Instead, a six-story building may soon stand as one more example of poor planning decisions on our island.

Irene Bowie

executive director

Maui Tomorrow Foundation