Times have changed and health must be protected

There seems to be no middle ground for the sugar company and those impacted by its cane burns. The company needs to burn cane to make a profit. Nobody else can rightfully dispute this decision. People are suffering with exacerbated asthma and serious inconvenience when cane is burned. Nobody can rightfully dispute that either.

I think the real issue is this: Can a land use become improper with the passage of time and changing circumstances? Kihei was hardly populated when the burns began a hundred years ago. But times have changed.

I remember a case from Arizona. The developer built Sun City retirement homes downwind of a huge stinky pig farm and then sued the farm as a nuisance. Of course, the farm was there first, by a hundred years. But the courts held that the use of the land as a pig farm had indeed become a nuisance over time, and decided the farm had to shut down. The owner got compensated by the development company, which came to the nuisance. Google Spur Industries v. Del E. Webb Development Co., 108 Ariz. 178, 494 P.2d 700 (1972).

On Maui, the developers are mostly long gone and it is the county that may have to step up, protect the health of its residents and, yes, pay up. The courts will take evidence about how much, but I think the time has come.

Rick Tolin