WAILUKU - A council committee Thursday elected not to place the land referred to as the "Pukalani Triangle" and proposed for the Upcountry Town Center into an urban growth boundary.
None of the council members on the General Plan Committee made a motion to include the 40 acres of the proposed project site, which sits between Makawao Avenue, Old Haleakala Highway and the new section of Haleakala Highway, in the Pukalani Urban Growth Boundary.
If the councilors had done so, inclusion in the growth boundary would have made it easier for developers to build a commercial and housing project across from Pukalani Superette.
Many Upcountry residents testified at previous meetings in opposition to the project, saying that it would cause more traffic and block views of Haleakala, and that no new large developments were needed in their town. Owners of Pukalani Superette also testified in opposition to the project, citing traffic issues and a desire to to keep the land in agriculture.
The committee's decision does not halt the project, but developers now have an extra step in their attempts to garner entitlements to construct the project.
Chris Hart, a representative for the developers, Pukalani Associates, could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
The proposed project as laid out by Hart in previous meetings would include senior and general residential housing and commercial development. Hart had previously said that 23 percent of the 40 acres would be park and open space and that the project would be "logical in-fill" because the site is adjacent to Pukalani urban development. He said that plans were in place to address traffic and growth issues, with
developers offering to widen Makawao Avenue from Old Haleakala Highway to the new section of Haleakala Highway.
The Pukalani Triangle was one of several projects acted on during the committee's continued review of the draft Maui Island Plan's growth boundaries for the Makawao-Pukalani-Kula region. The all-day meeting Thursday, which included nearly 50 testifiers, was recessed until 9 a.m. Monday, when the same region will be discussed again in Council Chambers in the Kalana O Maui building.
Another project that did not receive a boundary change was the Pi'iholo South project. A motion was made to accept 59 acres for the project into a Small Town Area designation, but no one seconded the motion.
By definition, the Maui County Planning Department says "small towns" are less intensely developed than urban areas with fewer services and a lower level of infrastructure. The designation's purpose is to "protect the integrity, unique sense of place and economic viability of Maui's traditional small towns."
At other meetings, the Pi'iholo project had received support from testifiers, who liked the "aging-in-place" concept for the area. The proposed project would include senior housing, walking trails and greenways, community gardens and a public park.
But Thursday, council members were told that the property recently came under new ownership. The project manager for new owners Hoku Nui Maui, Joshua Chavez, told council members that he and one of the owners, Erik Frost, were available to answer questions.
The representatives said that the sale did not involve any commitments to the previous owner's plans.
While no council members said why they did not offer a second to the motion, committee Chairwoman Gladys Baisa said that she figured the revelation of the new ownership and the uncertainty of what their plans were had council members apprehensive of granting the boundary change.
"We didn't feel comfortable in moving ahead," Baisa said after the meeting.
Committee members did agree to expand a rural growth boundary to include 14 acres for the Hui No'eau Visual Arts Center off Baldwin Avenue to expand in Makawao.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.