OPINION: Two Opposing Viewpoints on Maui Island Plan
By Susan Halas
The Maui Island Plan, now before the Maui County Council, is the most complicated and controversial proposal to face lawmakers in recent years. Here are two different takes on it: Lucienne DeNaie, policy analyst for Maui Tomorrow speaks in favor of adoption. Hans Riecke, architect and planner on Maui for 40 years, represents an opposing view.
Pro Maui Island Plan: Lucienne De Naie – One Sizes Does Not Fit All
Lucienne De Naie, a policy analyst for Maui Tomorrow and a former candidate for Maui County Council, spoke to the Rotary Club of Maui last week giving reasons why she favors adoption of the Maui Island Plan. She was a member of the original 25 member General Plan Advisory Committee.
“One size does not fit all,” she told the Rotarians. “It’s important to respect the work that’s been done. This is where the rubber meets the road.”
De Naie defended the length of the document which is now over 400 pages with many maps and at least 12 land use categories. If adopted she felt the plan would be an “umbrella” coordinating Maui’s zoning and land use regulations.
“Your average general plan has over 400 pages. That is not uncommon. Specificity is needed. We need to be sure that some level of detail is included. There’s been a lot of citizen involvement up to this point.”
She also spoke in support of the various boundaries the Island Plan contains. These will limit and contain growth to certain specified areas if adopted.
“We need the directed growth boundaries. We need to be practical – we can’t supply infrastructure willy-nilly. This plan shows target areas and will help contain costs for services like water, sewer, schools and police. It also allows for new forms that may emerge in coming years.
The original legislation that set up the Maui Island Plan called for two broad land use categories: Urban and Rural.
But as the plan evolved many other categories were added. These include Country Town, Rural Service Center and Rural Residential. There are four categories of protection types: Preservation, Regional Park, Greenbelt, Greenway and Sensitive Land. In addition, there are three overlays for agricultural lands: Prime Ag, Community Ag and Grazing.
De Naie said that while Urban and Rural were the only two categories specifically mentioned in enabling legislation, the GPAC felt more categories were necessary and would beneficial.
Urban growth boundaries, the hard and fast limits set around development in each geographic region, she said are essential because “they designate the limits of all the various communities. We wanted separation, we didn’t want sprawl.”
As for the many very detailed maps, she pointed out that the council adopted the policy portion of the Island Plan in 2010. “You have the words, now you need the pictures. The maps are the pictures.”
Against Maui Island Plan: Hans Riecke – Change Is The Only Constant
Hans Riecke has been an architect and planner on Maui for more 40 years, and was a member of the 1990 Paia/Haiku Community Plan Advisory Committee. He lives in Haiku. Riecke stated the need to modify the plan in a recent communication to Maui Now which appears below.
“The whole plan contains about 400 pages. The Directed Growth Chapter alone has 66 pages. For this document to become law, every word and map must be scrutinized for clarity and accuracy. If adopted as written, this document will be the lengthiest and most complex ordinance governing land use in the history of the county. Planning Director Will Spence is attempting to clarify the language so that his department can administer the proposed new land use rules efficiently and fairly. He should be commended for doing this.
“Maui County has grown substantially in the last decades, but has not had uncontrolled growth. Growth has been controlled for many years by zoning laws and special management area laws, and there have been general plans and community plans as required by the charter. To say that there will be or has been uncontrolled or unlimited growth simply is not true.
“The plan, if adopted as is, will add to an already lengthy and expensive approval and entitlement process.
“In the past, the cost of infrastructure improvements has been borne by the landowners and developers, not by the county. I doubt that that will change with the adoption of the Maui Island Plan.
“There will be no savings to the cost of infrastructure if the plan is adopted; on the contrary, the cost of land development and construction will increase for all – including those who want to build affordable houses – by adding new layers to the already cumbersome and expensive approval and entitlement process and by limiting the supply of buildable land in many areas. Also, the value of the land located within the growth boundaries will most likely increase.
“The many people who have worked on the Maui Island Plan should be commended for creating an excellent reference book for use by the Community Plan Advisory Committees (CPACs), which have yet to be impaneled. The growth boundary plans, if adopted, should guide the CPACs planning decisions, but they should not have the force of law.
“I would like to urge the Maui County Council members to impanel the CPAC members now and let them do their work before acting on the Maui Island Plan. People living in the areas being planned should have a strong voice in this process.
“The Maui County Charter requires that the planning director review and update the general and community plans every 10 years. The last time this was done was in 1990. The director in office in 2000 broke the law and every director after that did too.
“As an architect and planner, I know that making plans is time sensitive. Plans I made five years ago would be different if I made them today. Change is the only constant.”