After eminent domain vote in council, Komar Maui Properties announces gift of 5 acres to Maui for Lahaina wildfire debris

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Komar Maui Properties today announced it is offering a donation of five acres of land near the Central Maui Landfill in Puʻunēnē to the County of Maui to address the need for waste collection and disposal in the aftermath of the Lahaina wildfire.  The announcement comes after the County Council approved proceedings for condemnation by eminent domain to acquire the land as a permanent disposal site for wildfire debris.  

Komar is offering a quarter of the 20-acre site that was outlined in the eminent domain proposal, saying it will accommodate 100% of the 400,000 cubic yards of debris from Lahaina and Olowalu.  As a condition of the donation, Komar says it wants the donated land to be used exclusively for Lahaina debris; and that the county extend equal rights to the remaining 15 acres for use by Komar.  

“The goal is to get the folks from Lahaina back home. That’s the need,” said Andy Naden, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Komar Investments during an announcement Monday morning at the Maui Food Bank in Wailuku. “Lahaina needs to get rid of their debris, the county needs five acres, and our company is going to donate that land.”

The gift is described by Komar as a charitable donation in the form of a quit claim deed. “This is a significant step in what seems to be an urgent need,” said Naden.

He described the condition of equal rights for the remaining acreage as “a rising tide that lifts all boats.” He said lot 1-B was intended to be used for private landfill development.


Komar executives say that even as the council passed the eminent domain proposal, the company had plans to continue negotiations with the county. “There have been two trains that are running along this track… One of the trains is the eminent domain track, and the other is the negotiation that takes place.”

Komar hopes the gift will eliminate the need for further action before the matter reaches the courts for eminent domain.

In passing the eminent domain proposal, county officials said the decision marked a “major step towards returning Lahaina survivors to their properties and permanently disposing of the debris from the Aug 2023 Wildfires.” In a press release issued over the weekend, the county said the acquisition would also allow the county to secure additional airspace to accommodate future municipal solid waste generated on Maui.

*Maui Now reached out to the County of Maui for comment on the donation, and did not get a response at the time of publication. This post was updated to add the county’s response which was received on Monday evening.

“We are greatly appreciative of Komar Maui Properties’ announcement to donate five acres; however, our long-term landfill plan requires the full 20 acres for an MSW (municipal solid waste) landfill for our residents,” said Mayor Richard Bissen. “The County remains willing to pay the appraised value to acquire this parcel to address the need of the people of Lahaina and the long-term need of our residents.”


County officials say the pursuit of the 20-acre parcel has been part of expansion plans to develop the Central Maui Landfill for municipal solid waste, and the urgent need for a Permanent Disposal Site “certainly accelerated negotiations” that concluded with eminent domain action taken by the Maui County Council last Friday.

While Komar has proposed a privately owned and operated landfill on 15 of the 20 acres, county officials say they will proceed with “the best long-term plan for its residents.”

“While the donation of five acres is welcomed, it was the County’s plan to utilize 8-10 acres for Lahaina debris and ash,” said Department of Environmental Management Director Shayne Agawa.  “Our plan requires more acreage to ensure that the height of the ash remains lower than the elevation of Pūlehu Road.  If we placed all the debris in five acres, it would create a mountain that would expose the ash to the elements, and pose a potential risk to public safety.”

Director Agawa explained that if Komar intends to utilize the full 15 acres for a private landfill, they would need a right of access through the Central Maui Landfill, which “would pose considerable liability and operational issues.”

Naden said the company has been actively negotiating with the county for years over several administrations. “We had always talked about ideally developing it, because that’s what we do. We take these lands, we get it permitted, and then we make it a fully functional, operational part of the community. Because of the urgency associated with the fires in Lahaina and the tragedy that took place, it has to happen now,” he said.


The area was previously permitted as a landfill, but according to Komar, the county let their special use permit lapse for use of the property as a landfill in 2020.

“Truth be told, we would like to be the developer. We did ask for that originally. We made it clear that we thought we could do it cheaper, safer and better,” said Naden. “But the county wants to control this part of it and we understand why. They are experts at taking care of the whole community. We’re experts at taking care of parts of it. So we came up with this idea as a gift, as the best way to take care of Lahaina, to take care of the county, [and] to take care of the community.”

According to Komar, land engineers will decide the exact location of the five acres. “We ideally imagine it’ll be the part that is adjacent to the current landfill, but it could be any part of that, as long as it’s contiguous,” said Naden.

Naden said Komar intends to develop the remaining 15 acres as an operational landfill, possibly for construction and demolition.

When asked how much the parcel is worth, Naden said, land is valued in three ways–market value, infrastructure cost and income stream. “One is you look at what comparable pieces of property sell for… The next one is infrastructure—what would it cost to take a piece of land and dig the quarry out that we have now,” he said. Other parcels at the Central Maui Landfill are at grade compared to a “scooped out hole” that already exists at the Komar parcel.

According to Naden, the third and most important avenue of determining the value is income stream. “What is the income that’s going to be coming into the property? Again, if the tipping fees here are over $116 a ton, and you’ve got 400,000 tons that need to be dumped, you can do the math. It’s an incredible amount of income, but there’s also a lot of money that goes into getting it prepared,” said Naden.

Komar Maui Properties bought the property in December 2015 from Alexander & Baldwin for $700,000. The county is authorized to obtain the property at an estimated price of $830,000, according to earlier reports.

Komar executives said they held the announcement at the Maui Food Bank because it is an entity that embraced the community on a daily basis. “When times are tough, this is where you go,” said Naden. “We were welcomed here and we’re honored to be here because we think we have a lot in common… You see all their trucks around every day collecting all the food that’s going to be brought in for distribution. We’re out there… every day, bringing in the waste. So we’re kind of the front end and the back end of the food system here,” he said.

Komar executives say they never intended to sell the property. “That wasn’t our goal and isn’t our goal. Our goal is to buy these properties and develop them… to grow our business, to serve the community and to protect the environment. That triple mission statement is what drives all of our projects,” said Naden.

Naden said, “We have a deep understanding and depth of experience in the waste collection, management and disposal business and have developed and managed 11 landfills across the country without incident.” These landfills are located in the States of California, Arizona, Florida, Texas and Louisiana.

Naden said the next steps are to meet with the county, Mayor Bissen and try to formalize the gift.

“This is a win for the county, it’s a win for the community and it’s a win for Komar. It’s a gift to all of us,” said Naden. “Not everybody gets to make something so significant happen in times of strife,” said Naden of the donation.

County officials say they will be proceeding “under the provisions granted by the Governor’s Emergency Proclamation” to expedite the development of the Permanent Disposal Site.” The county reports that these emergency provisions are not transferable to private companies.

*Editor’s note: This story was updated to include comment from the County of Maui, which was provided after initial publication.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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