Sunday, April 11, 2004

Resort’s expansion
highlights Maui woes

Makena Resort seeks a zoning
change for its expansion plans

MAKENA, Maui >> Deby Cammarata remembers the wilderness in Makena before resorts and private estates rose along the coastline.

"We used to camp here, but you can't camp here anymore," said Cammarata, a Maui Meadows resident.

As south Maui undergoes increasing urbanization of its coast, the Makena region, including Makena Resort Corp.'s proposed expansion, has become a public sounding board about the future direction of the Valley Isle.

The debate on the resort's request for rezoning 603 acres of land is going into its sixth week -- one of the longest continuous committee deliberations in the last 10 years.

The council's Planning and Land Use Committee is scheduled to meet at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow in its chambers to resume the decision-making meeting.

Makena Resort Vice President Roy Figueiroa pointed out that its parent company, Seibu Hawaii, could develop more housing and vacation units under its existing zoning than its proposed request and that a substantial portion of the rezoning includes two existing golf courses.

However, the company needs the zoning change to accommodate its plans for a more upscale, lower-density development.

Beach-goers Deby Cammarata and her friend Rick Shoemaker said they're aware of the increasing urbanization of south Maui and hope overnight camping is provided somewhere in Makena.

Wailea resident John Sindoni, a beach-goer, said he thought Makena Resort was a good neighbor, helping to provide water, roads and beach access to the public, and was confident the firm would act in the best interest of the community.

Changes during more than a quarter-century of development have presented Maui residents with new sets of problems -- shortages of water, affordable housing, and access to once-remote sandy beaches for fishing and camping.

About 90 percent of the construction taking place on Maui is for off-island people, pushing residential housing prices to record levels.

Because resorts tend to generate mainly low-paying jobs, the county has asked large vacation developers to provide affordable dwelling units to lessen the adverse social impact on housing.

Under county ordinance, the ratio is one affordable unit for every four units built by a vacation developer.

Council Planning Committee Chairman Wayne Nishiki has proposed raising the affordable-housing requirement for Makena Resort to a one-to-one ratio and requiring a portion of the affordable housing be within the resort.

Nishiki and Councilwoman Jo Anne Johnson said placing affordable housing within the resort would provide a more integrated community and reduce social tensions, such as long travel distances between home and work.

Nishiki has also proposed that Makena Resort develop its own water sources for the expansion, since the county's underground source in central Maui is near its sustainable yield.

Mayor Alan Arakawa is trying to negotiate the use of up to 25 million gallons a day of stream water from C. Brewer & Co. Ltd., but no agreement has been signed.

Figueiroa said he believes the county should apply the same housing and water standards it has upon other resort developers.

He said he thinks the firm shouldn't have to develop a private water source, especially if other developers are able to use the county system.

"I think it would be unfair," Figueiroa said.

He said because Seibu helped develop the transmission line from Wailuku to Makena, he would hope the firm would be able to use the water system.

He said he agreed that if water were not available, the firm would participate in water development.

Nishiki has also proposed increasing the number of public parking stalls provided by the resort to a minimum of 124 from 64.

Some residents said on weekends, the 39-stall south parking lot at Makena Resort is full, forcing residents to park on the sides of the road.

Kula resident Megan Colvin, a beach-goer at Makena, said more parking should be provided if the resort is going to have more visitors within the resort.

"Nobody wants to see more development, but if they're going to do more stuff, they should have more parking," Colvin said.

Council Chairman Dane Kane has suggested that the issue of beach access, including parking stalls, could be resolved by the Maui Planning Commission when Makena Resort seeks shoreline permits for the development.

But Nishiki has opposed leaving the decision about beach access to the commission.

Some Maui residents who use the beach at Makena said there should be more beach accesses and places for camping in Makena.

Cammarata's friend Rick Shoemaker, of Kahului, said residents once camped in the Makena Park area before the state established rules that barred overnight stays.

"Actually, you need designated camping grounds here," he said.


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --