WAILUKU - Details, details. . . . Some love 'em. Some hate 'em.
For the Maui Island General Plan, the momentum shifted Wednesday in favor of those who want more details in the plan, rejecting arguments from Department of Planning Director Will Spence, who has maintained that too many details would defeat the purpose of the document as a "general" plan and make it a nightmare for planners to administer and for members of the public to sort out.
The Maui County Council's General Plan Committee recessed Wednesday afternoon after hearing from more than a dozen testifiers, most of whom called for keeping details in the island plan to help preserve land and keep development at bay.
Committee Chairwoman Gladys Baisa said that the panel will reconvene at 1:30 p.m. today in the eighth-floor Council Chambers of the Kalana O Maui building. She emphasized that because the meeting was recessed after public testimony was closed Wednesday, the committee will continue work on the plan without more testimony today.
"We've got to focus and get it done," she said of the plan.
Baisa said that the committee was able to complete work on a table that describes different kinds of urban and/or rural areas. The rural area was broken down into rural residential, service center, country-towns and "just plain rural," she said.
While these were the kinds of details Spence has been advocating to simplify, Baisa said that he was "willing to go with the recommendations." A call to Spence seeking confirmation or clarification went unanswered late Wednesday afternoon.
Baisa said that people want the details in the island General Plan because "blood, sweat and tears" have gone into drafting that version of the plan. Testifiers noted during the meeting that the plan had gone through the General Plan Advisory Committee, the Maui Planning Commission and recommendations from different planning directors through the years.
Maalaea Community Association President Pam Daoust testified that Spence's recommendation to take out details from the General Plan would oversimplify it and render it inadequate to prevent and control growth and to protect agricultural lands, open space, green space and green belts.
Putting planning details in community plans, which would come after the General Plan is adopted, would be "kicking the can down the road" and mean that the "tail would be wagging the dog instead of the other way."
Irene Bowie, executive director of the Maui Tomorrow Foundation, addressed Spence's criticism of the approximately 400 pages of the draft Maui Island Plan, saying that other jurisdictions have similar plans that are hundreds of pages long. Hawaii and Kauai counties' plans, for example, are more than 400 and approximately 350 pages, respectively, she said.
Broad and vague plans do not provide the clear language that's needed to facilitate the work on future community plans, Bowie said.
"Please do not allow this document to be weakened and vague," she said. "Maui's quality of life is worth every page."
Tamara Paltin, president of the Save Honolua Coalition, said the Maui General Plan adopted in 1991 is 21 pages long, and, although "all the right words are in the plan . . . without detail, it's like the right words didn't matter."
"In land-use planning, the details are very important," she said.
However, Spence was not alone in advocating for a simplified version of the plan.
Dave DeLeon of the Realtors Association of Maui said that the proposed plan before council members was "too specific to be truly a general plan."
Because of the amount of detail in the plan, "it will amount to another layer of zoning," he said. "The last thing our land-use system needs is another layer of zoning and micromanagement."
Tom Cannon, chairman of the General Plan Advisory Committee, said the General Plan should protect the authentic character of Maui's small towns by separating them with open space and restricting their spread with urban-growth boundaries. He suggested connecting the towns with a modern light rail system, reducing the community's reliance on highways and motor vehicles.
Focusing on Central Maui, Baisa said she wants to make a list of those who want to make changes on the proposed urban-growth boundaries, assess the number of requested revisions and determine how best to address them.
She said that she doesn't know if the number of those wanting changes is five or 50, but added that she wants to be "fair to everyone, listen and work with everyone."
* Brian Perry can be reached at email@example.com.