On Maui, development plans spur calls to 'keep country country'

Paia land sale meeting
Published: Feb. 14, 2017 at 8:13 AM HST|Updated: Feb. 14, 2017 at 2:04 PM HST
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Old Maui High School (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Old Maui High School (Image: Hawaii News Now)

PAIA, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hundreds of Maui residents turned out Monday to share their concerns about a planned development for the island's North Shore that would include new housing units, shops, eateries and a museum.

TEACH (Technology, Education, Agriculture, Community and Health) Development LCC was formed solely to re-purpose and renovate an abandoned high school in Paia.

TEACH's CEO said he also wants to build an amphitheater on the 23-acre acre parcel in Hamakuapoko that's been vacant for more than 40 years.

Several outraged residents gathered at the Paia Community Center on Monday to protest the controversial plan.

"I don't know if you guys know, but you see how small our road is right over here? You guys when ever experience Paia traffic?" said one resident. "You guys know that whatever you guys planning for build there, this road no can support whatever you guys trying for build."

Resident Kamalani Pahukoa said, "It would be really meaningful if TEACH would pack up and leave."

But CEO Mark Chasan says his project is misunderstood. He hopes to incorporate agriculture, a Hawaiian cultural immersion center and more on the site.

"It's about having a place where kids can get education that's practical. So they'll learn about biology on the farm. Geometry by designing and building buildings. They'll learn about physics by actually working with plumbing and electricity," Chasan said.

Residents aren't convinced.

They say the area can't handle the infrastructure needs, and they want to make sure nearby famous surf spot Hookipa isn't overrun with tourists.

Plus, several demanded a traffic study.

"We already have bad traffic in Paia as it is already. North Shore is horrible with traffic and we can't handle it already. This influx is just crazy," Paia resident Valerie Toro said.

In the wake of the meeting, the Office of Economic Development plans to meet with the developer to determine how to proceed.

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