WAILUKU - The Maui County Council Public Services Committee voted 4-1 late Monday to recommend conditional approval of the Kula Ridge fast-track affordable housing application.
Committee Chairman Wayne Nishiki cast the only "no" vote, while Council Members Joe Pontanilla, Danny Mateo, Bill Medeiros and Mike Victorino all voted in favor of moving the application forward to the full council on Tuesday, four days before the expiration of a 45-day deadline for the council to consider the project.
Excused from Monday evening's meeting were Council Member Jo Anne Johnson, who has expressed support for Kula Ridge, and Council Member Sol Kaho'ohalahala, who supported Nishiki last week in a failed motion to reject the 116-lot development featuring 70 affordable homes.
The committee spent three hours deliberating Monday morning and then recessed until an evening meeting that ran a little more than five hours before members reached a consensus on 15 conditions aimed at addressing issues such as water, traffic safety, minimum lot size, archaeological monitoring and the project's construction timetable.
By 10:45 p.m., members voted 4-1 for approval of the project with conditions.
Nishiki said committee members could explain their votes Tuesday when council members take final action on a resolution for the Kula Ridge development. The meeting is set for 9 a.m. in the Council Chambers. Public testimony will be taken.
Highlighted Conditions at a Glance
* The applicant shall comply with the county's Show Me the Water ordinance, which requires developers to demonstrate they have a water source for their projects.
* Kula Ridge shall provide a restroom in the development's 3-acre park.
* No ohana units shall be allowed in the subdivision.
* The applicant shall pay the state Department of Education the appropriate school impact fee for each of the market units in the Kula Ridge subdivision. The fees shall benefit Kula Elementary School, Kalama Intermediate School and King Kekaulike High School.
* The minimum lot size for the single-family affordable units (house/lot packages) shall be 6,000 square feet.
* The affordable single-family homes and senior affordable duplexes shall be built at a rate of two single-family homes or one senior affordable duplex for each market-rate home built or market-rate lot sold, whichever is earlier.
* Construction of the Kula Ridge affordable housing subdivision shall be started within one year of granting of a bonded final subdivision approval. The beginning of construction is when grading work starts on off-site infrastructure improvements.
* For the purposes of the project's fast-track housing application, the term "senior" means those income-qualified prospective purchasers who are at least 55 years old.
The recommended resolution approval with modifications can be found in the Public Services Committee report listed on the Maui County Council website at www.co.maui.hi.us/index.aspx?NID=66
Kula Ridge developer Clayton Nishikawa issued a one-paragraph statement Tuesday, following the committee's recommended approval.
"The voices of Maui's families were heard by our council members," he said. "Our friends and families shared about the need for affordable housing, senior affordable housing and jobs for those struggling in today's economy. And the reality is that the public and private sector need to work together to bring solutions forward. I'm glad that Kula Ridge can be a part of the solution for Maui."
The committee's nod of approval came with multiple conditions, a few of them mirroring Nishikawa's own suggestions for modifications to his application.
Nishikawa said Tuesday morning that he needed to study the conditions recommended for approval by the committee.
"I don't know. We have to take a look at the conditions and see how it affects the overall economic viability of the project," he said.
Late Monday night, Nishikawa told council members that his project could be jeopardized by too many conditions, particularly those that could affect getting financing for the project or restrict proceeding with market-priced homes.
The committee's condition on affordable homes says: "The affordable single-family homes and senior affordable duplexes shall be built at a rate of two single-family homes or one senior affordable duplex for each market-rate home built or market-rate lot sold, whichever is earlier."
Nishikawa expressed qualms over the requirement.
"I don't have control over market demand or the global economy," he said.
He said putting conditions on when market-priced lots could be sold would be like telling a retailer to sell unprofitable products before selling items that make money.
"To some degree, that's what they were suggesting," he said. "It really doesn't work that way when you do a subdivision."
He said market-priced lots help him subsidize the popular affordable housing units. Kula Ridge submitted with its application a list of more than 400 people interested in the affordable housing units.
Nishikawa said he wants to build the affordable homes as soon as possible. The affordable component includes 34 senior duplexes and 25 single-family homes, priced in the Kula Ridge application between $237,600 and $489,000.
The proposed Kula Ridge project sits on 48 acres above Holy Ghost Church and the Kula Community Center. The current application, filed and currently reviewed under Hawaii Revised Statutes 201H-38, calls for building a 116-lot development with 70 affordable units for senior citizens and single families. The fast-track state housing law allows a developer to bypass most state and county land-use requirements by promising to build affordable housing.
On Tuesday, Council Members Mike Molina and Gladys Baisa will have their first opportunity to vote on the Kula Ridge project. They are not members of the Public Services Committee and do not vote with that panel.
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