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Resolution authorizes audit of golf course

May 10, 2008
WAILUKU — Maui County Council members voted unanimously Friday on a resolution authorizing a contract for an independent audit of the public Waiehu Golf Course.

During a regular council meeting, the members also approved a resolution authorizing the administration to settle a lawsuit over a proposed housing development by Hanohano LLC in Pukalani. The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed.

Council Chairman Riki Hokama offered the resolution to authorize a performance audit of the Waiehu Golf Course, with a recommendation to waive council rules to allow immediate action.

During a committee review of the fiscal 2009 budget, council members — based on testimony of golfers — raised questions about the course’s maintenance and overall condition. The Budget and Finance Committee rejected a request to increase golf fees, saying the issues needed to be addressed first.

On Friday, council members approved the resolution without referral to a committee for discussion. The vote was 8-0, with Council Member Michelle Anderson absent.

The Waiehu Municipal Golf Course collects fees meant to cover the cost of operations. But for the last two years, county taxpayers subsidized the municipal course by $355,879 and $329,126, respectively. This year, the Parks and Recreation Department requested a significant bump to $672,151.

Golfers have complained that greens are uneven and overgrown with weeds, to the extent that conditions affect their play.

The Hanohano lawsuit deals with a 1964 decision by the county Board of Supervisors to grant R-3 residential zoning to a swath of former pineapple land in Pukalani before the state Land Use Commission established its land use classifications for the area. The affected area includes the 28 acres now owned by Hanohano LLC, which is proposing a subdivision on the land.

Forty years after the supervisors’ action, county Public Works Director Milton Arakawa and Planning Director Mike Foley invalidated the zoning because it had not conformed to the state land use classification. The Land Use Commission designated the land as agricultural around the time the supervisors granted the county residential zoning.

Hanohano was able to win Land Use Commission approval for urban classification in 2004 and sued in April 2006 for the rights to proceed under R-3 zoning. In March, 2nd Circuit Judge Joel August ruled the county administrators did not have the authority to reverse the supervisors’ original grant of the zoning.

“This reaffirms that only the legislative branch has the authority to change zoning not within the county’s jurisdiction,” Hokama said. “Someone in the mayor’s administration can’t do it with just a Post-it note on a map.”

A representative for Hanohano LLC said the company is not seeking money in the lawsuit, only the ability to move forward with the subdivision.

Since the authorization to settle did not include details of a settlement, it remains unclear how it will affect other properties similarly granted zoning without state urban designation.

• Chris Hamilton can be reached at


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