LAHAINA, Hawaii – The Land Use Committee received testimony at a site inspection for the proposed Kahoma Village affordable housing project on Front Street on Wednesday morning.
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Some testifiers said that the project’s final environmental assessment does not reflect realistic traffic conditions in the area and fear that “more houses would mean more cars.”
The environmental assessment reported findings of no significant impact for the project.
Traffic engineer Michael Packard of SSFM International said that the opening of additional extensions of the Lahaina Bypass may alleviate traffic in area, responding to questions from Council members.
Councilmember Michael Victorino (Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu) asked whether a traffic light should be installed. Packard said a traffic light signal system is not warranted under national standards and could worsen traffic conditions.
He added that a roundabout was not feasible either.
Councilmember Elle Cochran (West Maui) asked the developer’s representatives if they have considered building a dedicated right-hand turn to Kenui Street from Honoapiilani Highway to alleviate anticipated congestion during rush hours.
“We are not building more roads and paving paradise,” Packard said. He noted there are no similar structures along the highway and cited the traffic counts study his firm conducted. He shared that a standard planning practice is to determine if amenities for residents are within a half-mile radius or 10-minute walk from the location, encouraging residents to promote a walkable community instead of driving.
Lahaina resident Ruth McKay testified at the site inspection and said she supports the project. She hopes to live at the project, partly to be near Lahaina Town “where all the amenities are close by.”
King Kamehameha III Elementary School Principal Steve Franz also testified at the location and urged the Committee to consider impacts of the additional homes to the ratio of schools in the area. “We are already over capacity,” Mr. Franz added.
The proposed project calls for 203 residential units, 102 (51 percent) meeting the County’s affordability criteria. The project is proposed under Chapter 201H, Hawaii Revised Statutes, which grants special status to qualified affordable-housing projects, including the opportunity for fast-track approval.
Stanford Carr Development, LLC. is the project developer.
Testimony and deliberations continued in the Council Chamber in the afternoon as Committee members started scrutinizing the proposed exemptions for the project. The Committee adjourned without making a recommendation to the Council, which must act by Feb. 13.
The next Land Use Committee meeting is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 22. The agenda will be posted 6-7 days prior to the meeting at the Committee’s page.
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