MAKENA, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A settlement in the fight over a south Maui community modifies development plans by allowing for fewer buildings and more open space.
As part of the agreement between developers ATC Makena Holdings and Discovery Land Co. and three environmental groups, a road closed off more than 30 years ago will reopen as an historic trail.
That's just one of the compromises reached for the $354.5 millions mixed-used Makena Resort.
Some 134 units, instead of 158, will be built on 47 acres.
Makena Landing Park will be expanded about an acre with an off-site parking lot offering a free shuttle to Makena State Park.
And some 22 out of 36 cultural sites will now be preserved, instead of just seven.
Among the many provisions of the agreement, perhaps the biggest win is the development of 60 affordable housing units on resort land, that will be given first to families with historical ties to Makena.
"That was a big deal because most of our affordable housing is actually only affordable for 10 yearsm then it goes to the market and we're back to where we started," said Albert Perez, executive director of Maui Tomorrow Foundation. "Local people have been getting pushed out, now we have a way for them to stay in these affordable homes."
Also under the news plan, the ceation of a community benefit fund for Makena area projects like building a traditional hale for cultural activities.
Maui Tomorrow along with groups Ho'oponopono O Makena and the Sierra Club of Maui fought for plan adjustments when they filed suit early May in environmental court, challenging Maui's Planning Commission's "finding of no significant impact" for the project's environmental assessment.
Perez said negotiations with developers were at times difficult, but he feels a good compromise was reached.
"I think the lesson is that our government can do more for the people by asking for more from developers," said Perez.
State Representative Kaniela Ing agrees.
"When hundreds of people stand up link arms and speak out, they can really make a difference," Ing said. "We just want to make sure these developments don't just keep expanding. We need to set a limit so Makena can stay Makena."
The project is moving forward on its approved SMA permit application and developers will focus on design plans.
Construction is slated to start mid-2020.
"We want and plan for Makena to be an example of how economic, sustainable development should be in Hawaii and how working in strong collaboration with community and environmental groups should be done," said Sean Hehir, president of ATC Makena Holdings, LLC. "I think it's a win-win on all sides."