More than 30 lots in the Fairways at Maui Lani — with a long history of litigation — are a step closer to becoming a mix of affordable housing and homes for health care professionals.
The county is proposing to give Na Hale O Maui 19 lots and the Maui Health Foundation 16 lots in the Kahului subdivision along Puumakani Street.
On Monday afternoon, the Maui County Council’s Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee voted to recommend adoption of two resolutions to provide the lots to the two organizations. The resolutions will now be sent to the full council for its vote.
The properties make up some of the 51 lots the county acquired in a legal settlement amid a dispute over fill and grade heights for the homes more than a decade ago. For years the administration and the council have wrestled with the fate of the lots amid mounting carrying costs, with county officials in 2019 estimating that taxes, maintenance fees and association fees amounted to around $400,000.
The lots have also caused contention and concern in the community as truckloads of dirt from old Paia mill were transported over to create the fill, which towered over older houses along Palama Drive. Land preparation caused vibrations for neighbors along with dust and dirt stains from the fill, spawning other lawsuits involving residents, contractors and the county. Even after construction stopped, nearby residents have faced problems that include flooding, issues with fencing and walls falling apart from the development.
On March 11, Mayor Michael Victorino announced he would seek authority from the council to convey the lots to the organizations, noting a need for attracting highly qualified health care professionals along with providing affordable workforce housing.
Even with the unanimous 9-0 committee vote, Council Member Gabe Johnson, who chairs the Affordable Housing Committee, expressed some reservations. He said nearby residents, native Hawaiians and professionals such as the county archaeologist should determine if the lots are appropriate for homes.
Johnson said he “can’t be the one to answer” if iwi is found and building is allowed over it, or how to make “things right” for the Palama Drive residents next door to the development.
Committee Chairwoman Keani Rawlins-Fernandez said she agreed with Johnson.
“And as a council member, I will do my best to help support the departments to ensure that the residents on Palama Drive, their concerns after all these years, will be addressed,” she said.
She added that she would