WAILUKU - If Maui County Council members place agriculturally designated lands into rural growth boundaries, it doesn't necessarily mean that development will occur on the properties right away or even will occur at all, a county Department of Planning official said Tuesday.
Deputy Planning Director Michele Chouteau McLean told the council's General Plan Committee that even if agricultural lands were placed into a rural growth area, the people who would like to develop their lands still must go through at least several other entitlement processes before they can build. For example, the developers might need to get a change in zoning, a district boundary amendment or even a community plan amendment, she said.
"It doesn't change the density (automatically)," McLean added.
But she said getting agricultural lands designated into a rural growth boundary, in Upcountry for example, would remove one step of the property owner's development process.
McLean spoke to committee members as they continued their review of the draft Maui Island Plan's growth boundaries for the Makawao-Pukalani-Kula region. The Maui Island Plan will direct where growth can occur.
Committee Chairwoman Gladys Baisa reserved decision-making for the committee's next meeting, which is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. July 5 in Council Chambers. Baisa noted that she wanted more committee members present because four out of the nine members were absent and excused Tuesday. The meeting was adjourned Tuesday, meaning that testimony will be reopened at the July 5 meeting.
The committee has heard dozens of testifiers at its past several meetings for the Makawao-Pukalani-Kula region. Most testifiers express opposition to having agricultural lands moved into rural growth boundaries for fear of overdevelopment and desire to preserve agricultural lands. But some residents and developers want the rural designation so they could build homes and projects.
McLean told council members that the Planning Department made some recommendations to place lands now designated in agricultural areas into rural growth areas because that would reflect where growth is occurring. Also, those agricultural lands may be near another growth area, making it a more suitable place for development, she said.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, the committee - at the request of Council Member Mike White, who holds the Makawao, Haiku and Paia seat - moved a dozen Planning Department amendments from the Makawao-Pukalani-Kula region into proposed growth area boundaries for the Paia and Haiku area instead.
White said he was concerned that the Makawao-Pukalani-Kula directed growth strategy had too much overlap into some areas considered to be in Haiku and that could cause some confusion to Haiku residents whose properties may be involved.
He said he was worried that those residents might not have shown up at the past meetings involving the Makawao-Pukalani-Kula region because they did not realize Haiku areas were being discussed.
Council members also asked Planning Department staff to try to contact residents whose properties may be affected by the proposed movement of growth boundary areas.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.