WAILUKU - More than a handful of residents and property owners of Anuhea Place near the Kulamalu Town Center in Pukalani asked County Council committee members Monday to place their land in a rural growth boundary so that they could freely put up homes for themselves and their children.
But representatives of both the Makawao and Kula community associations as well as other Upcountry residents were concerned about changing any existing Upcountry agricultural subdivisions to the higher-density rural designation. They were concerned that the lots could possibly be subdivided into smaller lots that would result in more homes, significant infrastructure impacts and additional costs to taxpayers.
Changing the designation of agricultural subdivisions to rural could "establish a precedent" that could be a "detriment to the county," said Mike Foley, vice president of the Makawao Community Association and a former Maui County planning director.
But Tom Foster, a resident of Anuhea Place who also has a landscaping business on his property, said it makes sense to put Anuhea Place into a rural growth boundary because the area is adjacent to the town center and Kamehameha Schools Maui.
One of 10 people testifying in favor the change, Foster added that there is a gulch on both sides of the subdivision, so growth will not impact surrounding areas.
The Hale O Kaula Church also is in the subdivision and many members of the church testified Monday that the rural designation would make it easier to expand the church if needed. The church has faced numerous governmental hurdles because of its land designation and has even engaged in legal action.
Nearly 50 people testified before the Maui County Council's General Plan Committee, which is in the process of reviewing the draft Maui Island Plan's growth boundaries. The committee took up growth plans for the Makawao-Pukalani-Kula and Kihei-Makena regions Monday.
This was the first time testimony was accepted for the Upcountry region. Testimony on both regions took up most of the day, and the committee meeting recessed until 9 a.m. today in Council Chambers.
Committee Chairwoman Gladys Baisa said that to alleviate confusion, the committee will try to complete its review of only the Kihei-Makena region today. Review of the Upcountry region will be done at another meeting, she said.
A planned development that attracted testimony was the proposed Pukalani Triangle project, which would include housing with units for seniors and a commercial component. The project is bordered by Makawao Avenue, Haleakala Highway and Old Haleakala Highway.
Chris Hart, who is part of the group trying to develop the project, said that the Pukalani Triangle will be an "in-fill project" in an area that is surrounded mostly by development. Hart is seeking to have his project included in the Pukalani urban growth boundary.
He indicated that his project will not be part of the creep of Pukalani toward Makawao. Keeping Maui's communities separate has been a major issue in community plan discussions in all regions. He said that the new section of Haleakala Highway will maintain the separation between the two Upcountry towns.
He said that the area, which used to be called Corn Mill camp, could provide much-needed housing and amenities, including a park.
"This will be a walkable community," he said, adding that Makawao Main Street Association supports the project.
The Makawao Community Association's board suggested that the commercial component of the Triangle project be 200 feet mauka of Makawao Avenue, which would put it opposite of Pukalani Superette, Foley said.
He added that the association would like to see the project only extend to the current Wai Ulu Farms area with much of the other land in the area remaining in open space or as a greenway. This would include the land between the Makawao Fire Station and Haleakala Highway.
The association also agreed that there should be senior housing in the project.
Cindy Warner of Piiholo South asked council members to place 59 acres of fallow pineapple land mauka of St. Joseph's Church into a small town growth area. Warner said that the project will provide senior housing in a rural setting and will include community gardens, orchards and a buffer along Piiholo Road.
While the project got support from some residents and community groups, longtime Makawao resident Ernie Rezents said that he was against the Piiholo project and also an expansion request by Seabury Hall. He was worried about increased traffic and the safety of pedestrians.
"All I can think about is cars, cars and more cars," Rezents said about the streets in Makawao, including Kealaloa Avenue, where he says there are no safe areas to walk.
He said that there already are several schools in the area and children have to navigate the streets.
"It's a safety issue," he said.
Also, Maui Land & Pineapple Co.'s President and Chief Operating Officer Ryan Churchill asked the committee to place 376 acres mauka of Haliimaile Road into country town designation in the growth boundary map. Churchill said that the project will include up to 1,450 homes and is in an area that is bordered by two gulches.
"We had extensive community participation with a weeklong design charrette, which led to the development of the design and guiding principles for the project," Churchill said.
The project would include an agricultural buffer zone for pineapple or other agriculture in perpetuity that will keep Haliimaile as a distinct town and not merge into Makawao or Pukalani.
He added the plan includes land for a school if needed and a collector road to relieve traffic out of Makawao and upper Haiku. There also are options for social services to be placed in the area, Churchill said.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.