Maui affordable housing project on pause, pending lawsuit

Waiehu is zoned as agriculture land and critics say it should stay that way.
Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 6:56 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 7, 2022 at 7:14 PM HST
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WAIEHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui needs more affordable housing, but a new project planned for Waiehu is getting backlash.

Residents lined Kahekili Highway in Waiehu on Thursday with a clear message.

“This project is not welcomed,” Alika Atay said.

“And it’s not going to be a slam dunk.”

Atay is a lifelong Maui resident and has been living in Waiehu for the past 15 years. He was among those in opposition of the newly proposed Waiehu Residential Community.

The 238-acre parcel stretches from the intersection of Kahekili Highway and Waiehu Beach Road to the intersection of Kahekili Highway and Makaala Drive, on the mauka side of Kahekili Highway.

The developer says only 158 acres will actually be developed and all 752 units will be 100% affordable.

Meanwhile, the project is currently stalled because of lawsuits.

“The generations before me, that planned and organized this, have already determined that this is recognized as important agricultural lands and that this should not be urbanized,” Atay said.

Residents say if zoning is changed from agriculture land to urban development, the area cannot accommodate the substantial number of units.

“How can a county continue to approve homes without improving its infrastructure for the community?” said Atay.

The property was formerly used for sugar cane and more recently used for macadamia nut production.

However, the Final Environmental Assessment says there hasn’t been any agricultural activity in over a decade.

The project’s developer, a Genova Construction Development partner from California, survey the area with Land Use commissioners on Thursday.

Before anything is built, the commission would have to urbanize the land and have Maui County Council approve the plans.

The developer said he hopes they can move forward soon to help relieve Maui’s affordable housing crisis.