Kaiwahine Village Affordable Housing Project to go Before Maui County Council

Kaiwahine Village back on agenda
Time ran out on project under last council

February 3, 2011 – By BRIAN PERRY, City Editor
Article from: Maui News

WAILUKU – The Kaiwahine Village affordable housing project is expected to be resubmitted to the Maui County Council today.

The action follows the council’s rejection of the north Kihei project in December. After elections in November, members of the council’s Public Services Committee voted unanimously to reject the project without getting a presentation from its developers or hearing any information on its merits.

Panel members said there wasn’t enough time late last year to evaluate the project, and members of the new council should have the opportunity to review it.

On Wednesday, John Sindoni, owner and managing partner of developer Royal Main LLC, called the council’s refusal to review the project in December a “debacle,” particularly since the council had been “putting us off” since last summer.

“They wouldn’t even let us speak,” he said. “Members of the new council are raring to go. We’re really looking forward to working with them.”

Now, he said, the administration of Mayor Alan Arakawa has “stepped up” to try to help the project gain approval.

“I feel the administration has really jumped to our rescue,” he said. “We’re looking forward to doing something really wonderful for the affordable housing community.”

The submittal today begins a 45-day period for the council to consider the project, which is being processed as a fast-track development under state law. Projects with more than 50 percent affordable homes can get exemptions to state and county land use and other regulations under state law. Such projects must come before county councils for review.

The council’s Land Use Committee, chaired by Council Member Bob Carroll, already has scheduled a meeting Feb. 16 for members to hear a presentation on the project, according to planning consultant Chris Hart. The deadline for council action would be March 21, he said.

The Kaiwahine project would be similar to existing developments such as Iao Parkside, Kihei Villages and Southpointe in Kihei, he said.

Carroll said he expected the council would take action on the Kaiwahine development before the Arakawa administration submits its budget proposal in mid-March.

Within the 45-day time frame, the council can approve, disapprove or approve the project with conditions, he said. If the council doesn’t act in time, the project would be approved as submitted.

Carroll said Wednesday that he had been briefed “for a few minutes” on the project by the developer and by officials in the county’s Department of Housing and Human Concerns.

While Carroll said he knows broadly about the project, he had yet to receive detailed information.

“I don’t have a lot of background on it,” he said.

Sindoni said he’s aware that neighbors in the Hale Piilani Subdivision have concerns about traffic congestion.

Developers have worked on a couple of solutions aimed at getting motorists to avoid using the narrow Hale Kai Street and travel instead down Kaiwahine Street, a wider collector road more capable of handling higher volumes of traffic, he said.

The project aims to be a good neighbor, Sindoni said.

“We want to make it work for everybody,” he said.

Hart said the project’s primary vehicle access would be off of Kaiwahine Street.

Traffic mitigation plans include developing a roundabout in which the intersection of Hale Kai and Kaiwahine streets would be redesigned to allow traffic going toward the development to come from Hale Kai but to depart only via Kaiwahine.

Hart said the project also would bring some improvements to domestic water transmission, upgrading water pressure for the area.

The Kaiwahine Village is planned as a 120-unit multifamily project with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units in 15 buildings on 9.3 acres. Unit prices are expected to range from $185,000 for a one-bedroom unit to $245,000 for three bedrooms, Sindoni said.

Plans also call for building landscaped walkways to nearby Hale Piilani Park, which would be improved at the developer’s expense with better irrigation and the planting of new grass and shade trees, he said.

An irrigation well would be drilled to provide water for all landscaped areas, including the park, he said.

Sindoni said his company bought the project property from Nitto International nearly six years ago.