Panel pulls requirement for N. Kīhei affordable housing project so it can move ahead

Hale Kaiola, a 100% affordable housing project, will create 20 duplexes with 40 homes in North Kihei. PC: Courtesy Alaula Builders
Aerial view of Hale Kaiola, just makai of Piʻilani Highway. PC: Courtesy Alaula Builders

Saying that a much-needed affordable housing project in North Kīhei shouldn’t be held up over county roadway requirements, Maui Planning Commission on Tuesday morning voted to pull the condition, allowing Hale Kaiola to move full-steam ahead.

“This is what we are all interested in and talking about is housing for local families that is affordable,” Commissioner Kimberly Thayer said during the meeting. “I would be concerned about pinning this on the developer when they are doing everything they can to get this done as efficiently as possible.”

Led by Thayer’s motion to remove the condition, Maui Planning Commission voted 7-0, with one absent and excused, to nix roadwork requirements, such as curbs, gutters, sidewalks and drainage, along ‘Ohukai Road. Instead, the County of Maui will continue pursuing the work.

Hale Kaiola is a 100% workforce housing project with 20 duplexes containing 40 homes at the corner of Kaiola Place and ʻOhukai Road. Recently 40 local families were chosen via lottery of 117 applicants. Units will be owner-occupied with no rentals and start at $395,000.

Developed by Wailuku-based Alaula Builders, construction is ready to go with building permits anticipated this week, according to Doyle Betsill, Alaula president.

However, Betsill during the commission meeting Tuesday said that there was a mix-up with the original project agreement on one specific condition. 

The County of Maui had agreed to do roadway improvements along ʻOhukai, such as curbs, gutters, sidewalks and drainage. After the project went through council approval, a condition was included that the developer would be instead responsible for ‘Ohukai improvements.

Public Works Director Jordan Molina during the meeting confirmed that the county had agreed to the work. 

When asked about the status of the ‘Ohukai work, Molina said his department is waiting on a bill at state legislature that may make it easier for the county to do work within the Special Management Area, which is close to the shoreline.

If not, he said the department will pursue typical means of obtaining the costly and timely Special Management Area major permit.

Thayer said that if the roadway requirements are put on the developer, it could add cost and time, which would delay move-in dates for residents. 

Ultimately, she said she will trust that the county will follow through on its original commitment.

“The department is already, for all-intensive purposes, taking care of this portion of the project,” Thayer said ahead of the vote. “Maybe it’s a leap of faith, but I am willing to trust that the department will carry out what they are representing they will do.”

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