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.
WAILUKU – Maui County is seeking island vendors to participate in the Philadelphia International Flower Show, March 4 to 11.
An informational meeting is set for 8 a.m. Wednesday in the ninth-floor Mayor’s Lounge in the Kalana O Maui building. The list of participants must be completed by Oct. 1.
The show’s theme is “Hawai’i, Islands of Aloha.” Show organizers have offered vendors from all Hawaii counties the opportunity to participate in the event designed to
showcase local Hawaii-made products and cultural crafts. The Hawai’i Tourism Authority and Maui Visitors Bureau also will be participating to promote Hawaii and Maui County.
The Maui County Office of Economic Development announced it has purchased 10 booths at the Philadelphia flower show, the largest fresh flower and products show in North America. The nine-day event is expected to draw 300,000 people.
The office also is offering qualified Maui companies financial assistance.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for businesses to market the many fine local products and services we have here in Maui County,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa, adding that the county is seeking applicants that are “the best of the best we have to offer.”
Eligible products include Maui County-made food products, cultural crafts, Hawaiian music compact discs, fresh flowers or packaged nursery products, value-added soaps and lotions, fresh fruit and packaged coffee.
The county expects to pick a diverse group of vendors with a large amount of products ready to ship to Philadelphia in March. The requirements include that at least 51 percent of the value of the product must have been derived within Maui County, and the companies need to have a website with an active shopping cart.
For more information, call 270-7710.
Arakawa budget targets infrastructure projects
By ILIMA LOOMIS – Staff Writer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
WAILUKU – The county would budget nearly $44 million on water infrastructure projects, an increase of more than $20 million from current spending, under Mayor Alan Arakawa’s proposal for 2012.
Department of Water Supply Director Dave Taylor told council Budget and Finance Committee members Thursday that he knew the plan was ambitious, but the projects being proposed were considered his department’s highest priorities. He pledged to bring to the water department the same system for planning and managing capital improvement projects that he used as wastewater chief to get that division’s infrastructure work on track.
He said his department could be turned into a “machine” to churn out capital improvement projects.
“I don’t know if I’m going to catch up this year, but I have no doubt if we have this conversation two years from now, you’re going to say, ‘Wow. You’re a CIP machine.’ “
Council members expressed some confidence in Taylor based on his record of handling sewer projects for the county. But they remained daunted by the sheer amount of money being requested for water infrastructure and doubted the department’s ability to complete all the projects.
WAILUKU – The decision on whether Upcountry residents get more county water meters ultimately lies with the county’s fiscal policymakers, acting Department of Water Supply Director Dave Taylor said Wednesday.
“Not to kick the can to you guys, but it’s really a fiscal policy question,” Taylor said during his confirmation hearing before the Maui County Council’s Policy Committee. “Only the council can decide how much this is worth to pursue. We really can’t make that decision for the council.”
Following the recommendation of committee Chairman Riki Hokama, the panel voted 9-0 to recommend adoption of a resolution approving Mayor Alan Arakawa’s appointment of Taylor to head the county’s water department.
On Wednesday, the committee also unanimously recommended approval of John D. Kim as the county’s chief prosecuting attorney. Council members noted that Kim had received universal support during his Jan. 25 confirmation hearing.
Acting Corporation Counsel Pat Wong also had his nomination heard last month, but action on his appointment was deferred then and on Wednesday.
The Policy Committee grilled Taylor on numerous operational and policy questions, including the county’s Upcountry water meter list. That list has more than 2,000 people waiting for water meters, some for at least a decade.
WAILUKU – Earlier this year, the County Council demanded that the Lanai Co. “ask” for an appraisal of the value of its water company, with a view toward acquiring it to be part of the Department of Water Supply.
The appraisal by Brown & Caldwell is in. It estimates that if the county acquires the Lanai water system, rates would have to be raised nearly 900 percent, since costs of operation, new equipment and paying for the system would require nearly 10 times as much money as the $553,000 in revenue that the private company now enjoys.
On Tuesday, the Water Resources Committee, without comment, passed the agenda item on to the next council. If it had not done something, the Lanai proposal would have been filed.
Unresolved council projects expire automatically with the council that gave them birth, unless specific action is taken to pass the uncompleted work on to the next council. The next council will have five new members.
Mayor-elect Alan Arakawa has said since the beginning of his first term in 2003 that he wanted all water in the county to come under public control. That would include private water companies at Kapalua, Kaanapali, the Wailuku Water Co. and East Maui Irrigation.
However, during his first term, Arakawa did not acquire any private water for the county.
WAILUKU – With mutual allegations of insincerity flying, the County Council Water Resources Committee on Tuesday decided to allow its resolution about exploring the possibility of acquiring the Piiholo South water well to expire.
However, committee Chairman Mike Victorino said he plans to revive the idea when the new council convenes in January.
Zachary Franks, co-managing director of Piiholo South, originally proposed selling his well to the Department of Water Supply, but he did not like the way the county responded. Tuesday, he asked the council to allow its resolution to expire.
“It was a complete failure,” he said.
He charged that Council Member Wayne Nishiki had introduced the resolution “with the primary, though unstated, purpose of derailing Kula Ridge. Prior to its introduction, Piiholo South, towards whom the resolution was putatively aimed, was not even notified by Mr. Nishiki of the resolution’s existence, let alone consulted with regard to its substance.”
When he did learn the framework of a proposal, he said it was “a disproportionate and unfair deal” that would have had Piiholo South “hand over” 95 percent of its well for free. That, he told, the committee “could never happen.”
Nishiki is not a member of the committee, but he usually attends its meetings. He was not present when Franks made his statement, but he came in later and accused Franks of not sincerely wanting to deal with the county. “As far as I am concerned, he can go back to the Mainland,” Nishiki said.
WAILUKU – Maui County Mayor-elect Alan Arakawa named six new members to his Cabinet on Monday, including two key people to help him achieve his campaign goals, Danny Agsalog as director of the Department of Finance and Dave Taylor as director of the Department of Water Supply.
With the stumbling economy still heavy on most people’s minds, and job creation and finding more water on the lips of political candidates this election season, Arakawa chose people he was familiar with – and who are educated and experienced – to run the county’s finance and water departments, he said.
Arakawa also picked former longtime and award-winning television and print journalist Rod Antone as the county and mayor’s spokesman, replacing Mahina Martin. In addition, Arakawa chose deputy directors for the water and finance departments as well as for county communications.
KULA – Mayor-elect Alan Arakawa said Wednesday that the county had “more than adequate water supply” and that he hoped to begin issuing water meters to people on the Upcountry meter list within a few months of taking office.
Arakawa also said he planned to address what he thought were inequities in county regulations that required landowners applying for water meters to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on infrastructure or risk losing their place in line.
The incoming mayor was speaking at a meeting of the Kula Community Association, where he had been asked to speak on water concerns.
“Our administration intends to deal with the water issue head-on,” Arakawa said.
He said there was no question that enough water was available to meet Upcountry’s demands; the only question was how costly it would be and how long it would take to distribute it to the community.
He noted that the county’s Kamole Weir Water Treatment Facility, which was upgraded during his previous administration, now has a sustainable capacity of 6 million to 7 million gallons per day and is capable of treating up to 10 million gallons per day over short periods.
“We could cover all the Upcountry water meter requirements if we wanted to,” he said.