Housing project gets quick boost from County Council
Change in land use is final hurdle for 202-unit Kuikahi Village
A 100 percent workforce housing project in Wailuku took a quick step forward Friday as the Maui County Council waived its rules and gave its initial approval for a land use change for the development.
The Kuikahi Village project, which will consist of 202 workforce housing units on 14.5 acres along Kuikahi Drive, was approved Oct. 7 but was facing a final hurdle. It got a boost as council members voted unanimously Friday to amend the state land use district classification from agricultural district to urban district. The bill will need a second and final reading.
The land use change bill was supposed to be referred to the council’s Housing and Land Use Committee, but Lawrence Carnicelli, vice president of development for Alaula Builders, which is developing the project, asked that it be pushed forward Friday.
He noted the council’s time-crunched schedule, as its annual budget review is coming up, and that it would set the project back until maybe June.
“This is the last discretionary hurdle,” Carnicelli said. “It’s been a long road. We are trying to build some homes for some folks and this is the last hurdle we need from you all, so I just respectfully ask that you consider hearing it on the floor today and if you do, you look upon it favorably.”
He said this land use change request is a companion bill of the one that the council passed unanimously last year approving the project.
The current bill for the land use change took around six months to be scheduled and reviewed by the Maui Planning Commission, he added.
The council waived its rules to take up the bill on first reading on the floor and passed it unanimously, 9-0.
Council Chairwoman Alice Lee said she had a feeling of “reluctance” even as she was supporting the motion, as she does not support doing “committee work on the floor of the council,” but noted its time sensitivity and that the council had meetings on the project already.
Some of the concerns that the council had when the project was approved last year included the Wailuku Water Co. reservoir mauka of the project, which had been classified as a “high hazard” dam by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources due to one or more physical or operational conditions and deficiencies.
Carnicelli told council members that since then, Wailuku Water Co. has been moving to decommission the reservoir and plans to meet with Alaula Builders and the county next week to discuss the decomissioning and draining of the reservoir, as well as what to do with the water that would normally be collected by the old reservoir.
In voting in favor of the project, Council Member Tom Cook said: “I think this is representative of the opportunity for this body to be part of the solution to get housing to move forward and not delay and I trust that Mr. Carnicelli and his organization will follow through on all of the obligations and conditions.”
The project will be marketed to households earning at or below 140 percent of the area median income.
Proposed prices for the lowest of incomes are around $236,000 for a tiny home model and around $754,000 for a single-family residence in the highest range of incomes.
The project is being developed by Alaula Builders, which has also developed Hale Kaiola in Kihei. Homes will be for Maui residents and owner occupied. There will be no vacation rentals allowed and no Mainland buyers.
* Staff Writer Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.