Updated: September 29, 2022
Another affordable housing project is advancing in Waiehu, and this time the developer is pitching 752 units in a proposal called Waiehu Residential Community.
The 100% affordable housing project by California-based Genova Construction Development would build single- and multi-family units, retail space and parks on roughly 160 acres of overgrown macadamia nut fields mauka of Kahekili Highway near Waiehu Beach Road.
The project is separate but adjacent to Maui Economic Opportunity Inc.’s Hale Mahaolu Ke Kahua Affordable Housing Community, which is planning 120 affordable units on less than 12 acres of vacant land makai of Kahekili Highway near Waiehu Beach Road.
Waiehu Residential Community cleared a significant hurdle recently when the project received a Finding of No Significant Impact, according to “The Environmental Notice” published Friday by the state Office of Planning and Sustainable Development.
This means that state law requiring environmental study was met by the project’s environmental assessment, and a deeper governmental review won’t be needed. The decision can be challenged within 30 days of Friday.
However, Waiehu Residential Community still has a list of key approvals and permits needed — including the county’s fast-track affordable housing process that requires Maui County Council approval and a State Land Use District Boundary Amendment that needs state Land Use Commission approval — in order to break ground.
If all goes according to plan, the project would be completed in phases, starting in 2024 and ending in 2032, the final environmental assessment said. Estimated development cost was not included.
Waiehu Residential Community’s proposed 752 homes would comprise 184 multifamily units and 568 single-family dwellings. Also, 17,400 square feet in retail space and about six acres of parks would be built.
While the study didn’t disclose income or price ranges for the homes, it said that all units in the proposed community are for sale at prices determined by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development annual price guidelines.
Waiehu Residential Community would be developed on about 158 acres of a larger 238-acre parcel. The property is bounded by Free Church of Tonga vacant land and Ocean View Estates residential subdivision to the north; Kahekili Highway to the east; Wailuku Country Estates ag subdivision to the south; and Malaihili Road rural residential lands and Wahi Hoomalu Limited Partnership land to the west.
Historically, the parcel has been used for sugar cane. Since the 1980s, macadamia nuts have been in cultivation there.
Owners Pennsylvania-based Southwest 7 LLC in the study said that active farming hasn’t occurred in more than a decade, and the project will help alleviate Maui’s affordable housing crisis.
The project site envelopes five smaller parcels that are not owned by the applicant and not part of the proposed project, according to the final environmental assessment. It added that the applicant and the consultant have talked with property owners there.
“The applicant will ensure that vehicular access to the property is maintained and that access to the water is not impacted,” the study said.
Other concerns, such as traffic congestion, water resources and flooding issues, were addressed by the project consultant in the final environmental assessment.
Through the fast-track affordable housing process, the applicant is requesting exemption from a Maui County Community Plan Amendment, a change in zoning and compliance with the Maui Island Plan urban growth boundary.
The project triggers an environmental review under state law due to its proposed amendment of the Wailuku-Kahului Community Plan from agricultural to urban use and offsite infrastructure work affecting state and county rights-of-way along Kahekili Highway.
To view the Waiehu Residential Community final environmental assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact determination, visit “The Environmental Notice.”