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Bill shows council’s commitment to conservation, agriculture

After seven meetings over almost the entire County Council term, the Water Resources Committee, chaired by Council Member Mike Victorino, on Nov. 19 passed a bill to provide water conservation guidelines and special controls during a water shortage.

The legislation is expected to be heard on first reading by the council at 9 a.m. on Friday. The bill authorizes the director of water supply to declare a water shortage for any area where the potable water supply becomes inadequate.

Depending on a water shortage’s severity, the director will be able to employ a range of conservation measures, including restrictions on water usage and temporarily higher water rates for the affected area. As reported by the committee, the special rates are not intended to generate revenue, but rather to encourage water conservation and ensure fairness by charging a premium for high consumption during a water shortage.

Making Maui County’s agriculture a top priority, the committee voted to provide agricultural users a 90-day exemption from any water-shortage conservation measures. This will allow farmers and ranchers time to manage their crops and livestock.

On Nov. 20, the Housing, Human Concerns and Transportation Committee, chaired by Council Member Stacy Crivello, passed a bill to revise the Residential Workforce Housing Policy in order to encourage the development of housing for Maui County’s local residents and working families. The bill is likely to be heard on first reading at Friday’s council meeting.

The bill incorporated many recommendations made by a task force and testifiers to make current law more effective. The policy, codified as Chapter 2.96 of the Maui County Code, has not produced affordable housing as envisioned when it was enacted in 2006.

Bill 76 – the home-business bill – passed first reading at the council’s meeting on Nov. 21 and will be heard on second and final reading on Friday. As developed by Council Member Don Couch’s Planning Committee, the bill’s goals are to regulate commercial activities in residential areas, foster economic development and entrepreneurship by allowing residents to work from home in appropriate circumstances, and establish standards for home businesses that ensure quiet enjoyment of residential neighborhoods.

The council on Dec. 19 will consider legislation on “exceptional trees.” The county’s Arborist Committee has recommended amendments to the county’s list of trees that are entitled to special protection because of historic or cultural value, age, rarity, location, size and aesthetic quality.

The Economic Development, Agriculture and Environment Committee, chaired by Council Member Don Guzman, on Nov. 18 recommended adding trees at several locations to the exceptional tree list, including monkeypod trees in the 900 block of South Kihei Road, an India rubber tree and a Bermuda juniper tree at 3145 Baldwin Ave. in Makawao, and an ohia tree in the Waikamoi Preserve that is over 900 years old.

At the Nov. 21 council meeting, a bill to prohibit parking along Alenui and Lana streets in Paia was recommitted to the Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee, at the request of committee Chairwoman Elle Cochran.

Testifiers from the area told the council the parking ban would unduly interfere with beach access.

Friday’s agenda can be viewed at mauicounty.us. You are welcome to testify on items of interest to you.

A hui hou.

* Gladys C. Baisa is chairwoman of the Maui County Council and holds the council’s Pukalani-Kula-Ulupalakua area residency seat. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters.

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