WAILUKU - Plans for a proposed 754-unit housing subdivision just below Wailuku Heights are just about ready for review by the state government.
Developers of Pu'unani, which is south of the corner of Honoapiilani Highway and Kuikahi Drive, will need district changes approved by the state Land Use Commission and new zoning from the Maui County Planning Commission and County Council before the 208-acre project gets under way.
Pu'unani was proposed about three years ago, said former county deputy planning director and now the project's manager, Colleen Suyama, of the Wailuku consulting firm Munekiyo & Hiraga Inc. Suyama said the consortium of developers, which includes Maui Realtor Lloyd Sodetani, hopes to begin construction in 2012.
Suyama noted that the depressed housing market, hopefully, should be out of its doldrums by then.
In the meantime, the public and government agencies can weigh in on the required draft environmental impact statement, said LUC Executive Officer Orlando "Dan" Davidson. Those comments are due by March 9.
Suyama said that the developers, Towne Development of Hawaii Inc., Endurance Investors LLC and Association of II Wai Hui LP, expect to formally respond to the comments and present their final EIS to the state commission this summer at the earliest.
The project - estimated to cost $184.4 million in 2008 dollars - would be a blend of affordable and market-rate homes, she said. It remains to be determined exactly how many homes or condominiums the developers will construct and how improved lots will be sold for people to build on themselves, Suyama said.
But Sodetani has expressed a desire to provide housing specifically for veterans and the elderly, Suyama said.
Right now, the land is in a state agricultural district and was last farmed for sugar cane by Wailuku Agribusiness in the 1990s. The request before the LUC is to alter the agricultural district to urban. The county would consider converting the existing agricultural zoning to rural, single-home and multifamily zoning.
Waikapu Community Association member Wallette Pellegrino said that her organization has not taken a stand one way or the other on Pu'unani. But she said she dislikes the idea of losing the last significant piece of green space between the communities of Waikapu and Wailuku.
"Lots of people would prefer that we have open space there because Waikapu is a really unique community; and we would like to see our lifestyle preserved," Pellegrino said.
Pellegrino and her neighbors have met twice with the developers and, at least, want assurances that the realignment of Old Waikapu Road, which would connect to Kuikahi Drive, will never run all the way through the development to the south, bringing more traffic into the neighborhood.
Pellegrino said she also asked for, but did not receive, significantly larger setbacks from Honoapiilani Highway. The developers have proposed 30-foot "no-build" zone mauka of the highway.
She said she and others are concerned that the development will block the view up the hillside to the West Maui Mountains. Some homes under construction nearby by another developer are built atop tall retaining walls, which make it difficult to see the mountains from the highway.
One potential stumbling block for the project is that the Pu'unani Subdivision is not included in the area's community plan. And Mayor Charmaine Tavares and Planning Director Jeff Hunt have said they will not support any community plan amendments until the General Plan Advisory Committee (which Pellegrino sits on) and its working groups are finished drawing up a master plan and urban growth boundaries for the Valley Isle.
In addition, the General Plan will need Maui Planning Commission and County Council ratification, which is expected to take more than a year and likely will undergo further tweaking.
On Saturday, a GPAC subcommittee unanimously declined to recommend the project, opting instead for a green belt between Waikapu and Wailuku.
The planned subdivision is already surrounded on three sides by housing developments, Suyama said. The Waiolani Subdivision is on the Waikapu side; on the Wailuku side is the Kea Lani project, which is under construction; and Wailuku Heights rests between the project and the mountain.
Here's the project proposal in the draft EIS:
The majority of the project consists of 127 half-acre lots.
Six, 1-acre rural lots.
145 single-family lots.
476 multifamily units.
A 11.5-acre park.
A 9.6-acre storm water retention basin.
The affordable housing units would be built on-site.
Construct at least four new roads.
Developers plan to dig a new, 2 million gallon-a-day well to supply the residences; and any excess water would go to the public.
They also want to rebuild the aging Shaft 33, which provides much of the water for Wailuku town.
Up next, the Maui Planning Commission is scheduled to review Pu'unani's draft EIS during its next meeting Feb. 24.
Chris Hamilton can be reached at email@example.com.