With enough water and funding, the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands plans to add 66 agricultural lots — along with a cultural center, gardens, community buildings, an amphitheater, a local small business venue and native forest restoration — on roughly 70 acres along Kula Highway in Kēōkea.
DHHL’s Kula lands has the potential to be the largest homestead region on Maui, according to the project’s draft environmental assessment published recently in the state Office of Planning and Sustainable Development, Environmental Review Program’s “The Environmental Notice.”
The proposed Kēōkea Homestead Farm Lots Association would cost $41.2 million and the traffic impact report timeline estimated it could take 20 years to build.
Currently, the project site comprising more than 69 acres is mostly vacant, although it was used prior to COVID-19 for community events, such as the Kēōkea Hawaiian Homestead Hoʻolauleʻa and Farmers Market.
The association’s master plan would construct 66 ag lots. Also a cultural education center, native food and medicinal plant gardens, child and senior care complex, multipurpose community center complex, an amphitheater, a local small business and food venue, and native forest restoration efforts would be included.
However, Maui County Department of Planning in the early consultation process said that water availability Upcountry is a “major concern.”
“Please consider that in the Upcountry area, water availability is a major concern,” Planning Director Michele McLean wrote to the association. “We are uncertain about the water source for the proposed uses; however, we would like to note that Ordinance 5313 was passed, effective December 10, 2021, that exempts DHHL development from Maui County Code, Chapter 14.12 on Water Availability.”
She recommended that the county Department of Water Supply be consulted.
Later in the draft environmental assessment, it said an inquiry to the Department of Water Supply for water availability and reservation requirements was made and is pending a response.
Overall, DHHL’s Kula lands cover nearly 6,112 acres and offer “tremendous homesteading opportunities,” the report said.
There are currently three homestead areas under development, including the Kula Residence Lots subdivision, the Waiohuli Undivided Interest subdivision and the Kēōkea Farm Lots. Together, the areas equal about 800 homestead lots.
“With adequate water and funding, this area has the potential to be the largest homestead region on Maui,” the report said.
The proposed use of state lands and funds is one of the triggers for the Hawai’i law that requires the draft environmental assessment.
An environmental assessment evaluates and provides information to the public and to decision makers on whether a proposed action has significant environmental impact.
The publication April 23 starts a 30-day public comment period.
After it concludes, comments received will be considered for the final environmental assessment.
To view the Kēōkea Homestead Farm Lots Association Master Plan, visit “The Environmental Notice.”
* This version contains updated information on the project estimated cost, which is $41.2 million. An earlier report had an inaccurate cost due to information published by DHHL.