As county officials and residents continue to thrash out giant, controversial development projects in South Maui, County Council member Jo Anne Johnson has proposed a new West Maui-only moratorium on land development, say documents obtained by Maui Time. The moratorium would halt all construction on West Maui agricultural lands until the county updates the West Maui Community Plan and starts collecting traffic impact fees in the area—the latter of which was supposed to start way back in 1988.
“Agricultural subdivisions continue to be approved at a rapid rate in West Maui,” Johnson wrote Council chairman G. Riki Hokama on Oct. 15 in a letter obtained by Maui Time. “This has resulted in serious threats to Maui County’s economy, environment, and quality of life, as West Maui’s infrastructure continues to be placed under major stress. Failing to act now will render moot any possible benefits that could be derived from the new policies to be incorporated into the updated West Maui Community Plan and the new funds available through the implementation of the West Maui traffic impact fees.”
A draft of Johnson’s moratorium, also obtained by Maui Time, is a little over two pages long but scathing in its depiction of the damage West Maui ag development inflicts on the entire island. Titled “A BILL FOR AN ORDINANCE TO ESTABLISH A TEMPORARY DEVELOPMENT MORATORIUM ON WEST MAUI AGRICULTURAL LAND,” the bill notes that the continued construction of homes and mansions on West Maui ag land “causes traffic congestion and significant demands for core County functions and infrastructure, such as public safety, water, transportation, and wastewater, requiring costly improvements to physical infrastructure and public services.” It also notes that further development “threatens to irreparably harm Maui County’s economy and natural environment by depleting the County’s water supply, polluting coastal waters, damaging coral reef, usurping important transit corridors and open space, and improperly using precious agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes.”
The bill specifically exempts Hawaiian Homelands construction, any housing units exclusively sold or rented to residents making “very low,” “low,” “below-moderate” or “moderate” incomes, any government construction or improvements and repairs to any existing structure “that was legally erected.” How long the moratorium would stand isn’t clear, but Johnson said she thought it would take at least three years.
“Can you imagine how much money [the county] would have collected since 1988 if the traffic fees had been enacted?” Johnson asked me. “Talk about dropping the ball!”
Reports at press time indicate the Maui County Council could review the moratorium during its Nov. 2 meeting. Of course, Johnson has proposed development moratoriums before, but they’ve all been filed and forgotten. Should Hokama accept this one, it would likely end up in the County Council Planning Committee’s lap.
“We sure don’t have enough water,” Johnson said. “[Development is] sprawling all over the place. You know what, boys? You’ve had enough. It’s time to stop making money.” MTW