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Applications to be available next week for ‘aina kupuna’ tax relief

Beginning Dec. 1, applications will be available for those wanting to take part in a program designed to help longtime local families from being taxed out of properties they’ve held for decades.

The “aina kupuna” designation, made possible by a bill passed on second and final reading by the Maui County Council on Nov. 19, will allow qualifying property owners to only pay the minimum property tax, which is currently $350 a year. Some families have said their property tax bills are more than $10,000, as they live in highly sought areas near the beachfront.

One requirement is that the property dedicated as aina kupuna be owned in whole or in part in fee simple by one or more descendants of the person who owned the property at least 80 years prior to the application.

Applications will be available for pickup at the Real Property Assessment Division at the new County Service Center at 110 ‘Ala’ihi St., Suite 110, in Kahului, or downloaded from Mauipropertytax.com under the “forms” link.

The application must be filed with the Real Property Assessment Division on or before Dec. 31 to receive the aina kupuna tax rate for fiscal 2022-23, according to information from the Department of Finance.

The Finance Department also said this week that the county is working with Alexander & Baldwin to close the purchase of hundreds of acres of land in Central Maui “in a timely manner” following council approval on Nov. 19. Council members unanimously passed bills on second and final reading to acquire 493 acres in Waiale for cultural preservation for $10.5 million, receive a dedication of an additional 50 acres also for cultural preservation and receive a donation of 23.38 acres for affordable housing off Hansen Road, both from A&B.

The land abutting Kuihelani Highway and owned by A&B had been slated for a master-planned community with homes, commercial areas, a middle school, public facility and parks, but iwi kupuna, or ancestral remains, were found in the area.

The Finance Department said that due to the complicated nature of the transaction and the number of documents requiring execution, a closing date for the purchase of the land has not been determined.

Council members also unanimously passed a bill that prohibits the sale, distribution or use of nonmineral sunscreens.

Introduced by Council Member Kelly King, the bill recognizes that a number of nonmineral sunscreens have recently been demonstrated to pose a threat to the health of coastal waters, coral reefs and other marine species, according to a news release.

“Coral reefs are essential for the livelihood of many residents of Maui County, the perpetuation of cultural practices and the protection of coastal areas,” King said in the news release. “Our marine environment provides opportunities for recreation, inspiration and scenic beauty for residents and visitors. We must do what is necessary to preserve and protect it.”

Once signed into law, the bill will take effect on Oct. 1, 2022. The administration of the new prohibitions is the responsibility of the county Department of Environmental Management.

On Wednesday, county Communications Director Brian Perry said the mayor’s office received the bill on Monday and it is undergoing review.

Also passed on second and final reading:

• A bill that will tighten many development and land use laws for the Wailuku Redevelopment Area, which encompasses roughly 68 acres in the heart of town. It also pulls power from the Maui Redevelopment Agency, a county panel that oversees decisions for height variances, zoning and other rules, instead placing it in the hands of the county Board of Variances and Appeals.

• A bill to limit short-term rental home permits to one per person and one per property, expand notification requirements for bed-and-breakfast homes and short-term rental home applications and establish that family trusts may hold bed-and-breakfast home and short-term rental home permits.

Council members also approved a bill on first reading for a moratorium to maintain the number of transient accommodation units for a two-year period on Maui until the council enacts legislation addressing the findings and recommendations presented by a Tourism Management Temporary Investigative Group, or two years from the enactment of the bill, whichever is sooner.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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