MAKENA – The state Land Use Commission began this week what promises to be a long series of proceedings on Alexander & Baldwin Properties’ proposed 545-acre, 2,550-unit Wai’ale subdivision in Central Maui.
The commission listened to about two dozen residents testify for and against the proposal Thursday and Friday at the Makena Beach & Golf Resort.
“This is very preliminary,” said A&B Properties Vice President Grant Chun. “We are still in the conceptual phase. A lot of the questions asked today are to be answered on the county level.”
Commission members said that they intend to return for more testimony from state and county officials in April, Chun said Friday.
The Wai’ale project is seeking a state land-use district boundary change from agriculture to urban. And, the Maui County Council will take up proposed changes of zoning for the property as well as amendments to the county general and community plans, said county Deputy Corporation Counsel Michael Hopper.
The governor’s Office of Planning and Mayor Alan Arakawa’s Department of Planning support the project. Proponents of the development maintain it will bring jobs, tax revenue and affordable and market-priced homes as Maui’s population continues to grow.
Members of the Waikapu Community Association, conservationists and Native Hawaiian groups oppose the project.
Maui National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters and Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge Visitor CenterCLICK for Kealia Pond bird images.
The 7,500-square-foot building currently under construction near the Kihei end of Piilani Highway is scheduled to be completed by early fall. Refuge manager Glynnis Nakai said the $5 million project is federally funded. About half the building will be used for office space and the other half as an exhibit hall, she said. The hall will include interpretive panels and house the facility’s developing education program. Nakai said that in the future she and her staff hope to develop a volunteer program and “Friends of Kealia Pond” group to expand the refuge’s outreach, and perhaps staff the exhibit hall.
by Diana Duff
Special To West Hawaii Today
Those of us in attendance at the November Kona Town Meeting on food sustainability were not surprised to see Ken Love as one of the speakers. A vigilant supporter of “buying local” and a long-time champion of growing exotic fruit for local consumption, his low blood pressure was obviously raised as he talked about the charade he finds in some local stores. Sellers anxious to join the “buy local” campaign are sometimes stretching the limits and confusing consumers who really want to eat food grown as close to home as possible.
Ken’s main prop was a box of “Hawaii Ginger” with “Produce of China” in smaller type on the same box. “So, is this local produce?” he asked. A resounding “no” echoed through the Makaeo Events Pavilion.
Ken advised those present to look for the COOL, or Country of Origin Label, stickers on produce. These can help you choose fruit and vegetables grown in locations that match your buying preferences. If you don’t see the stickers, ask for them.
Research shows that consumers often prefer locally grown produce, but they can be confused if produce is labeled incorrectly or not at all. Shoppers looking for local products are often deceived by misleading signage. Locally grown crops need to be marked clearly and correctly. “Hawaii Grown” stickers could really help.
Marines at Kaneohe Bay are due to help endangered native birds this week by driving amphibious assault vehicles through the mud as part of three days of exercises that begin today.
The annual exercises at the Nuupia Ponds Wildlife Management Area at Marine Corps Base Hawai’i are called "Mud Ops."
The vehicles break up weeds on mudflats, improving foraging and ground-nesting opportunities for endangered Hawaiian Stilts that live there.
Without these efforts, the invasive pickle weed would crowd the birds out of their natural habitat.
The number of Hawaiian stilts using the ponds has grown to 160 from 60 since the Marines began Mud Ops 28 years ago.
Other native and migratory waterbirds have also started using the Windward O’ahu ponds more.
In the late 1920s, people intentionally introduced birds known as Japanese white-eyes into Hawaiian agricultural lands and gardens for purposes of bug control. Now, that decision has come back to bite us. A recent increase in the numbers of white-eyes that live in old-growth forests is leaving native bird species with too little to eat, according to a report published online on September 17th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. The findings show that introduced species can alter whole communities in significant ways and cause visible harm to the birds that manage to survive.
"Native Hawaiian songbirds cannot rear normal-size offspring in the presence of large numbers of introduced Japanese white-eyes," said Leonard Freed of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. "Their growth is stunted."