WAILUKU - Some neighbors of a proposed 68-lot affordable residential project in Lahaina are concerned the project would increase traffic in their neighborhoods and in turn endanger the many children that play and walk to school in the area.
"Where is the safety for our children?" asked Herman Nae'ole, a resident who lives near the proposed Kahoma Residential Subdivision project. The development would sit on 16.7 acres of vacant land between the Kahoma Stream flood control channel and homes mauka of the former Pioneer Mill.
After hearing public testimony and discussing the project Wednesday afternoon, members of the County Council's Land Use Committee continued deliberations into the evening and decided to defer the item until Nov. 16. While some members were ready to vote on the project, others said they needed more time to gather information.
In the committee meeting, council members proposed several conditions for the development. Those included a requirement that the units remain affordable for at least three years and that the housing be completed within seven years.
The lots would range from 5,000 to 12,000 square feet, and project plans include a grassed 43,000-square-foot neighborhood park in the center of the development.
Nae'ole, who said he lives on the corner of Kahena and Kalena streets, told committee members that "there's a lot of children" in his neighborhood. "There are no sidewalks."
Married couple Cindy and Stanford Catugal, who live nearby in Mill Camp, opposed the project and echoed concerns about increased traffic.
Cindy Catugal said infrastructure is insufficient to support 68 more homes in the area and that planners should consider the impacts of further development.
She suggested that Habitat for Humanity, which would develop 10 affordable units in the project, work to rehabilitate foreclosed homes as an alternative.
Stanford Catugal said he preferred the open space next to his neighborhood. People like to walk their dogs there and the space could be used by children, who usually play on the streets, he said.
"I'd like to see a park over there," he said.
On Wednesday, the committee debated a resolution to allow West Maui Land Co. to seek a fast-track approval for the affordable housing project. The application is being processed under a provision in state law that allows developers of affordable housing project to bypass state and county requirements and get expedited reviews.
Under that process, the Maui County Council has 45 calendar days, or until Dec. 8, to review the project proposal. The council has the option of approving or rejecting the project as is or approving it with conditions. Currently, the land is designated as open space in the West Maui Community Plan and as agricultural by county zoning and state designation.
The state Land Use Commission also will have 45 calendar days to consider the project after it is submitted, possibly next spring.
Project developer West Maui Land would make available 58 units to families earning less than 160 percent of the median income. Habitat for Humanity would have 10 units targeting those with income levels 80 percent below the median income.
Marvin Tevaga, who was born and raised in Lahaina, praised the project, saying it could offer families such as his a permanent place to live. Now, he rents his residence.
He said he also would like to see his children graduate from Lahainaluna High School, his alma mater.
Tevaga, a Maui police officer who testified on his own behalf, said he conducts traffic control in the Lahainaluna area. There are many rental units in the area where cars add to traffic congestion, he said.
Tevaga said he understood other Lahaina residents' concerns. But "we can work things out," he said.
Planning consultant Rory Frampton, who spoke for West Maui Land, told committee members that the project would have new vehicular access with Keawe and Kuhua streets connecting and allowing even residents of the old neighborhoods access to shopping at the nearby malls without needing to use Honoapiilani Highway.
Also, the completion of a portion of the Lahaina bypass will allow neighboring residents a route toward Kahului without driving on congested roads in Lahaina town, he said.
Access to and from the proposed development is planned through Kalena Street. Some area residents said they were concerned about the increased traffic on Kalena.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.