WAILUKU - Concerns about possible development being too close to Mokulele Highway and a lack of information regarding two state agencies' plans for its land in the Puunene area led a Maui County Council committee on Wednesday to deny their requests for new urban growth boundary areas for several hundred acres of land.
The council's General Plan Committee also voted to remove a state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands' parcel along the west side of Mokulele Highway from an urban growth area for the same reasons.
In addition, the panel turned away a request to add about 390 acres of Makena Resort golf course land to an urban growth area.
Both the state Departments of Land and Natural Resources and Hawaiian Home Lands previously told the committee, which is reviewing the Kihei-Makena growth boundaries in the draft Maui Island Plan, that they wanted to include some state land east of Mokulele Highway in the vicinity of the drag strip in an urban growth area in the hopes of raising revenue for their cash-strapped departments.
But without delivering specific plans or master plans for the area, several council members balked at the requests.
"(The) state has to go back to the drawing board," said Council Member Elle Cochran. "For me, it's kind of not sitting well at this point."
Council Member Mike White said that he wants to work with the state but also voiced his reservations about too much development along Mokulele Highway, a roadway heavily driven by visitors.
"As I've stated, I'm uncomfortable crowding the road in an area that's always been open and (in) agriculture," White said.
After several hours of discussion, many motions and amendments to motions, the committee voted down requests from both state agencies to include several hundred acres in an urban growth area.
Those indicating opposition to opening up more acres of state land for growth were Cochran, White, committee Vice Chairman Don Couch and committee Chairwoman Gladys Baisa. Those who wanted to include some but not all of the state land requested in an urban growth area were Mike Victorino and Joe Pontanilla. Council Members Riki Hokama, Bob Carroll and Danny Mateo were excused from the vote. Carroll attended the meeting later in the day.
Pontanilla tried to work out a solution palatable to those opposed to the proposals. Prior to the vote, the council member tried to get the committee to designate a portion of the state land in an urban growth boundary to give the state an opportunity to explore different types of development. He also tried to address some of his colleagues' concerns about the proximity of Mokulele Highway by suggesting the addition of 200-foot greenways along Mokulele Highway.
In the end, Pontanilla urged the state agencies to work with the county administration and to return to the council before the end of the year to present a master plan for the area known as Pulehunui. The council would then be in a better position to make a decision, he said.
Although Victorino said he wanted to see more plans from the state, he concurred with Pontanilla and urged the designation of some of the requested land in a growth boundary "to give them some flexibility" to explore what they can do.
"We all understand this (the growth boundary) is just the methodology for them to utilize their lands, which is our lands . . . This is not just their land; this is our land. We just want a say in it," Victorino said.
While most of the day was taken up by the issues surrounding the state's Puunene requests, committee members without much discussion turned down a request to add approximately 390 acres of Makena Resort golf course land into a growth area.
Those who voted no on the Makena request were Cochran, Couch and Victorino. Those who voted in favor were White, Pontanilla and Baisa. A tie meant that the proposal did not pass.
The committee will continue its review of the Kihei-Makena growth boundaries at 9 a.m. Monday in Council Chambers. Also on the agenda for Monday is the Directed Growth Plan for the Makawao-Pukalani-Kula region. Testimony will be accepted for both Kihei-Makena and the Upcountry regions.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.