Published in The Maui News, August 30, 2015
By DON GUZMAN, for The Maui News
The Maui County Council passed a bill on first reading Tuesday to readily allow commercial agricultural structures in the county agricultural district. Bill 60 (2015) proposes accessory uses, subject to certain restrictions, for roadside agriculture stands, farmers markets, agricultural retail structures and agricultural food establishments.
For more than two years, the bill was vetted by the Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture and Recreation Committee, which I chair, the Ag Working Group – an ad hoc community organization of farmers and ranchers – the Lanai, Maui and Molokai planning commissions, the Hana Advisory Committee and the county’s Department of Planning.
Bill 60 is set for second and final reading at the council meeting on Friday at 9 a.m.
Roadside stands and farmers markets around the county feature locally grown fruits, vegetables and other specialty products that are popular with both residents and visitors. Not only are the prices competitive, but customers enjoy being able to meet the farmers who grow the food they eat.
The measure supports sustainable agriculture for the county and diversifies opportunities for the aging farming industry. Featuring our local products helps residents and visitors understand our connection with the land, while engaging future generations to support small farms.
The bill intends to boost economic development opportunities for farming enterprises, while providing built-in protections such as size of the structure, allowable wall space, hours of operation and parking requirements, ensuring minimal impact to our islands’ small-town character.
The bill requires the commercial structures to feature products grown in Maui County or value-added products produced using products grown, raised or caught in Hawaii. The structures must also be operated on a legitimate and operational farm. A special use permit shall be required for structures more than 1,000 square feet.
In addition, the bill resolves inconsistencies between county and state land use laws and eliminates unnecessary or redundant permitting processes.
I am pleased this measure is finally moving forward. I am confident Bill 60 will be a boost to Maui County’s family farms and other agricultural businesses.
A copy of the bill is available on the committee’s website at MauiCounty.us/ear.
* Don Guzman is the vice chair of the Maui County Council. He holds the council seat for the Kahului residency area. He is chairman of the council’s Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture and Recreation Committee and the Committee of the Whole. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters.