The meeting began with an announcement by state Rep. George Fontaine, who said he was meeting with Maui Electric Company (MECO) President Ed Reinhardt to try and stop the utility’s plan to install 70-foot power poles along the mauka side of Pi‘ilani Highway as part of an effort to increase the supply of electricity for growth planned in South Maui.
Subsequently, the Maui Weekly recently learned that Rep. Fontaine appears to have been successful, stating that the MECO plan will be modified.
Rep. Fontaine disclosed additional information in a Thursday, Sept. 22, Facebook posting: “After meeting with MECO and hearing my suggestion of moving the lines further mauka above any view-plane and development, they agreed.”
Lucienne de Naie told Kīhei Community Association meeting attendees that much is at stake for South Maui depending on the final form of the Maui Island Plan that is approved by the Maui County Council.
“The route will now go from some midway point on Mokulele Highway, across A&B and ranch lands,” he added. “They need to work [out] what the new cost will be and easements. Once they complete it, they will present the new plan to the community. The president [Reinhart] also apologized to the community on how this was initially handled.”
Following Fontaine, the group discussed the potential impact of the proposed Maui Island Plan currently under review by the Maui County Council.
Among the guest speakers for the evening were environmental activist and former General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) member Lucienne de Naie and Kathleen Kern from the county Planning Department’s Long Range Planning Division.
De Naie said that much is at stake for South Maui, depending on the final form of the Maui Island Plan that is approved by the council.
She said the important issues affecting the area include: Hawaiian cultural heritage; shorelines, oceans and reefs; watersheds and wild lands; livable, walkable communities; housing opportunities; food and energy self-sufficiency; economic diversity; and adaptation to climate change.
De Naie is concerned that the council is engaged in softening the language of the proposed plan by removing words like “shall” and “must,” and replacing them with words such as “may” and “encourage” in areas relating to environmental and building practices, to name a few.
She also criticized the council for removing or placing in the index section maps tied to policy statements regarding topics such as preservation of the shorelines and hazard areas.
“Good maps equal good plans,” de Naie said. “We need to advocate that our maps connect to our Maui Island Plan.”
A panel moderated by KCA President John Miller brought de Naie together with Kern.
Miller reiterated his concerns to Kern. “The community has spoken about what we want and don’t want in South Maui, and what we want our community to look like. But, after all that, why do we get these monster plans that are so shocking, instead of what the community vision is asking for. What mechanism are we going to put in place to get the community we want?”
Kern replied that the Maui Island Plan is a policy document that is open to interpretation. “There is a difference between a policy plan and regulation such as zoning, etc.,” she said. “Ultimately, what governs things are the regulations.”
She recommended that as the community moves forward from the Maui Island Plan to the development of community plans that will put policy recommendation into effect, they correctly identify the zoning they want with specific design guidelines.
Kern, an architect who has previously worked on planning issues in Seattle, Wash., suggested that Maui might want to look at the Seattle planning model.
“In Seattle, after doing neighborhood plans, they began to develop neighborhood design guidelines,” said Kern. “Any large project has to go to the community design review board.”