WAILUKU -- By a narrow 5-4 vote, Maui County Council members gave final approval to the Maui Island Plan on Friday, but with a last-minute amendment that added a footnote to the plan addressing the controversial Olowalu Town development.
Council Member Joe Pontanilla proposed the amendment, which said "the future delineation of potential urban-growth areas makai of the existing Honoapiilani Highway may be undertaken in conjunction with updates or amendments to the West Maui Community Plan."
It went on to say that "such delineation may consider the need to: protect adjacent coastal and marine ecosystems (including the reefs at Olowalu), enhance public shoreline access and open space, and implement the proposed Pali to Puamana Parkway plan."
Pontanilla said his amendment would "enable the Olowalu Town plan to be further developed and studied as part of the detailed work that will be undertaken during the community plan amendment process."
"Further, when the council considers the West Maui Community Plan update, it will be better able to assess site-specific planning and mitigation measures for the lands makai of the existing Honoapiilani Highway."
Although Council Member Bob Carroll said that the footnote reflects the amendment process that can be done for any community plan, Pontanilla's amendment passed by a 5-4 vote, with Pontanilla, Carroll and Council Members Gladys Baisa, Don Couch, Mike White voting in favor and Council Members Elle Cochran, Danny Mateo, Riki Hokama and Mike Victorino opposed.
The council then needed to suspend its rules with at least six votes to disallow last-minute amendments to enable council members to vote on the Maui Island Plan bill overall.
Couch urged council members to allow the plan to go forward and not have it scuttled because of a procedural point. He said allowing the plan to get "out of whack... would be a shame," especially after years of hearings and deliberations.
The plan needed to be approved by the council by Dec. 31.
Victorino said he didn't want the plan to fail on the procedural point, and that he would reluctantly vote in favor of waiving the council's rules. He said he doesn't want development makai of the highway in Olowalu, but he wouldn't stand in the way of the plan's overall passage.
The vote to suspend the council rules passed 7-2, with Cochran and Hokama dissenting.
The final vote to approve the overall plan passed 5-4, with Cochran, Hokama, Victorino and Mateo voting no.
The plan advances to the desk of Mayor Alan Arakawa. He can sign it into law, veto it or allow to pass into law without his signature.
For more on this story, read the Saturday edition of The Maui News.