WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii – After nearly five hours of deliberations yesterday, the Council’s Land Use Committee recommended, by a vote of 7-0, adoption of a proposed resolution approving with modifications a ”fast track” affordable housing application for Waikapu Gardens, Phase II.
The committee had a previous site inspection and meeting on Sept. 4.
If approved by the Council, construction is expected to begin within two years and to be completed within five years thereafter.
Developer JES Corporation increased its original proposal of 48 single-family homes to 56, replacing the proposed neighborhood commercial center with an additional 8 homes. Under Chapter 201H, Hawaii Revised Statutes, qualified affordable-housing project can be granted exemptions from many otherwise applicable State and County laws.
According to testimony received at the meeting, the Waikapu Community Association opposed the commercial component of the project.
“The community is in support of affordable housing,” said Councilmember Michael P. Victorino, who holds the Council’s Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu residency seat and attended what he called a “very spirited” meeting of the community association earlier in the week. “They have concerns about traffic if a commercial center is added in the plan.”
The committee carefully examined the various exemptions proposed and recommended modifications to the project.
“It gives me great pleasure to support affordable housing for our working families,” Council Chair Gladys C. Baisa said. “No one wants to give exemptions because we know someone else has to pick up the tab.
“But that’s what communities are about – I help you, you help me.”
“Speaking against affordable housing is like speaking against your mother,” Councilmember G. Riki Hokama said. He reminded the committee that zoning and other planning-related policies will be affected by the exemptions being granted.
“We found this project worthy enough to consider exemptions. We’ve proven that plans can be modified with the proper exemptions.”
Hokama also stressed the importance of maintaining affordability of the homes upon resale.
The “fast-track” provisions of Chapter 201H require the Council to act by Oct. 10. It’s expected the Council will vote on the resolution on Oct. 4.
“Luckily, this project is a ‘clean’ one,” Councilmember Donald G. Couch, Jr. said. “I would like to see if we can work on communicating with the Legislature to extend deadlines from 45 to 60 or 90 days.
“The deadlines should not be a detriment to having affordable housing.”
Land Use Committee Chair Robert Carroll thanked the other Council members and the community for their participation at “this historic moment.”
The Land Use Committee may take up another affordable housing application this December.
# # #