Waikapu Country Town

January 17, 2018

In early December 2017, the Maui community met at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center to discuss the upcoming Waikapu Country Town in detail.  Over a two-day period the Hawaii State Land Use Commission heard several hours of testimony regarding the project.

The project spans almost 600 acres that are split by the Hono-apiilani Highway and surrounded by the 2,000 acres of the Maui Tropical Plantation.  Contractor, Mike Atherton, seeks a state boundary amendment to shift 150 acres from agricultural use to urban use and 335 acres from agricultural to rural. If approved by the State-run commission, Atherton can seek a change of zoning and community plan amendment from Maui County. The process with Maui County is expected to be a 2-3-year process that would allow the planned constructed project to be completed in two 5-year phases.

Atherton envisions an “agrihood” that includes both housing and agricultural implementation within the project. He testified to the commissioner that over the years he has adopted a “good-neighbor” approach to development.

The commission heard 9 public testimonies who nearly all gave praise for the upcoming project. Robert Pahaia, manager of Hoaloha Farms in Central Maui said that the project would help move the state towards food security instead of being dependent on outside sources. In addition, he said that this project sets the precedent for small family farms. Stan Franco of Faith and Action for Community Equity said that residents are badly in need of affordable housing. He strongly approved the plan to build a range of homes for different income levels.

Even those who typically don’t approve of housing developers offered support of the plan. Albert Perez, Foundation Executive Director of the Maui Tomorrow Foundation, stated that the plan provides a fair assessment of the different impacts on the area and has been reworked to maximize the benefits for the community.

Department of Planning Director, Will Spence, gave credibility to the project, stating that the land was already set aside as a planned growth area in the Maui Island Plan.

A major impact to the area is the expected traffic increase as a result of the new development. In addition, Daniel Lum, a hydrogeologist and owner of Water Resource Associates, described his work to assess the sustainability and water quality of groundwater wells that were proposed as freshwater sources. Wastewater would be treated in a private system producing water for agricultural irrigation.

If approved by all parties, the project plan would include 1,000 single-family and 433 multifamily units, as well as offices, shops, parks, open spaces, a school, hundreds of acres of agricultural land and 146 ohana units.