The Land Use Committee Wednesday recommended adoption of a resolution, 5-0, to send to the Maui Planning Commission a bill relating to protection of trees within historic districts.
A copy of the resolution, which attaches the original bill proposed by Council Vice-Chair Robert Carroll, who also chairs the committee, can be found here: http://www.mauicounty.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/18476
The purpose of the bill is to enhance protection of significant trees within Historic Districts 1 and 2, in Lahaina and Historic District 3 in Wailuku. According to Committee Chair Carroll, this type of legislation has been in discussion for more than a decade.
The bill would require written approval from the Cultural Resources Commission prior to the removal of a significant tree within a historic district.
The committee discussed the criteria for defining “significant tree.” Currently, the bill says “any tree with a trunk circumference of thirty-six inches or more” is “significant.”
The bill also notes that a “significant tree” contributes a sense of place, historic character and environment to historic districts and shall be preserved to the fullest extent possible.
Several Council members expressed concerns about the criteria for defining a significant tree.
Several amendments were introduced by Councilmember Elle Cochran.
The amendments require significant trees be maintained in accordance with specific standards, and allow the Cultural Resources Commission to solicit input from the county arborist or Maui County Arborist Committee in determining compliance with those standards.
Councilmember Donald G. Couch, Jr. voiced concern about a tree’s trunk circumference being afforded so much importance and initially said he preferred the committee to review the bill more thoroughly, with input from various departments, the Corporation Counsel and the Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture and Recreation Committee, before sending it to the Maui Planning Commission. He said the discussion was “going too fast.”
Committee Chair Carroll had a different view and urged moving the legislation forward, while acknowledging his colleagues’ concerns.
“The Maui County Code currently establishes a protection process for ‘large trees’ in historic districts within Wailuku,” he said. “The proposed bill will authorize the protection of certain trees in all historic districts within the County.
“I urge the members to refer this bill to the Maui Planning Commission. The commission has the appropriate people and time to look into this bill and receive substantial testimony from the public. I would hate to see this bill falling into limbo again.”
Committee Chair Carroll’s views were persuasive, and the committee report recommending adoption of the resolution is tentatively scheduled for consideration at the Council meeting on Dec. 6.
The proposed bill was introduced as a result of attempted removal of significant monkey pod trees within the historic district in Lahaina. It intends to create a review process to preserve vitally important foliage, especially those in culturally significant areas.
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