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County to handle improvements fronting affordable project in Kihei

Hale Kaiola to have 40 units on corner of Kaiola and Ohukai streets

Maui County will be responsible for building sidewalks and other improvements fronting an affordable housing project in Kihei after the requirement was originally imposed on the developer.

The Maui Planning Commission voted Tuesday to remove the condition from a special management area use permit issued for Hale Kaiola, a 40-unit affordable project on the corner of Kaiola and Ohukai streets, as the condition is contrary to what the Maui County Council had approved for the affordable housing project, according to Planning Department documents.

Instead, the county Public Works Department will conduct the improvements as had been proposed previously when the council gave its approval in September 2020. The condition, which also included the option of contributing to the cost of the frontage improvements instead of doing the physical construction, was not modified when the project came before the planning commission in November 2020, and therefore approved, department documents show.

But the Kihei Community Association and some commissioners expressed concern over when the improvements would be constructed, citing safety issues in the area and a need for sidewalks.

“Our fear once again is the infrastructure will not be constructed when the development is completed,” said Mike Moran, president of the Kihei Community Association.

During testimony, Moran said they did not want to hold up the project but didn’t want the community to get “shortchanged.”

He also noted county documents that said improvements, such as the sidewalks, were to be constructed in late 2021, but that has not happened.

Public Works Director Jordan Molina said at the meeting that the department is currently awaiting the outcome of the current legislative session, as there is a bill pending that would eliminate the need for the county to seek a special management area use permit major for the improvements.

He did not provide a cost estimate, but said he wanted to save the county money and not seek the SMA permit until it was decided at the Legislature.

The improvements in front of Hale Kaiola are also tied to county improvements in nearby areas, Molina said.

If an SMA major permit is still required, Molina said the process could take about a year.

Doyle Betsill, a representative of Hale Kaiola, said construction on the project could take a year once permits are issued, which he expected would be this week.

The project will consist of 40 duplex homes with a yard, starting at $395,000, according to Alaula Builders, which held a lottery last month to select 40 families for the neighborhood.

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

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