Petition from Maui coalition targets former sugar cane land
IWILEI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A coalition made up of Maui residents, farmers, and their supporters presented a petition at Alexander & Baldwin's annual shareholders meeting in Iwilei on Tuesday.
Hukilike no Maui is asking A&B to donate or sell 15% of the company's former sugar cane lands in Central Maui.
The group wants public or private entities to use the 5,000 acres for small-scale agriculture, affordable housing, and conservation.
Members hope to have property near Haliimaile set aside for agriculture and affordable housing. There's also an eco-town concept in Puunene.
"The idea would be to have a sustainable community that included some farming and some more higher density mix of different kinds of housing," explained Lucienne DeNaie, a member of Hukilike no Maui.
Nearly all of the former plantation's 36,000 acres are zoned for agriculture.
"The zoning is one thing that we're looking at changing, the zoning and the planning, to have real integrated communities where people can live where they're farming," said Hukilike no Maui member Jerry Riverstone.
Supporters also rallied outside A&B's office in Kahului.
"We've been doing this for a long time so we've heard a lot of suggestions over the years. Not everything has proved viable over time, but we're certainly interested in discussing any viable options, in looking at sound business plans, research behind it, and seeing what we can do moving forward," said Darren Pai, A&B's corporate communications director.
Pai said since the plantation's closure, the company has worked hard to diversify agriculture in Central Maui.
"We've got about 4,500 acres that are in active ranching and farming. We've got another 15,000 that we're in active negotiations for agricultural leases with different companies," said Pai.
The request for conservation includes some coastal lands, as well as sand dunes with ancient burials that are considered sacred by Native Hawaiians.
"What's most important is the aina, and how we treat it, and how it becomes abundant for the people," said Clare Apana, a member of Hukilike no Maui.
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