REPEAL THE 2015 UPCOUNTRY WATER BILL
Public Documents now reveal that in 2015, Gladys Baisa, then Chair of the Water Resources Committee, Corporation Counsel, and Director of Public Works David Goode, apparently pulled a classic Bait and Switch on the rest of the County Council and the people of Maui County.
The Upcountry Water Bill was said to aid residents on the Upcountry Water Meter Priority List eligible to get a second water meter, which would allow them to subdivide their property into two lots. All public notices of the bill specified its intent to exempt those 2 lot subdividers from having to perform costly infrastructure improvements related only to water connections for fire protection.
After numerous committee hearings, at the Council’s first reading for the proposed bill, Public Works Director David Goode testified that in addition to fire protection, costly roadway improvements could also prevent residents from building a second home for their family. So, responding to Director Goode’s suggestion, language was added to the bill that significantly extended the exemption for 2 Lot Subdivisions beyond fire suppression, to include all roadway improvements as well.
Contrary to our County Charter, no public notice has ever been made of that significant change to the bill’s scope and intent.
THE BIGGER SWITCH:
Certainly not the public, and perhaps not even the Council Members, were made aware that when Corporation Counsel’s Jennifer Oana (who has recently been nominated for a judgeship) added David Goode’s suggested roadway exemption, the language Oana added to the bill to amend the County Code’s Title 18 Subdivision Ordinance was not specific to ‘Family” Residential Subdividers on the Upcountry Priority List.
Instead, Oana’s significant language change is today allowing professional residential and commercial developers, island-wide, to inappropriately avoid performing roadway improvements along their two-lot subdivisions, effectively shifting their financial burdens into Maui’s taxpayers.
Public documents, received through Freedom of Information requests, reveal that by virtue of the “Upcountry Water Bill”, Alexander and Baldwin has been awarded a roadway improvement exemption for a 1200 acre parcel just south of Puunene and Dairy Rd. and that Snorkel Bob’s got an exemption for a commercial development on Front St. in Lahaina and that the Blue Golf Course got an exemption for 60 acres in Wailea. That’s just not fair.
So far Public Works has admitted to thirteen exemptions awarded to approved 2 lot subdivisions, we don’t know yet how many more have their preliminary subdivision approvals.
In fact, the specifics of this “mistake” and the potential for this abuse was communicated in July of 2016 to Water Committee Chair Baisa, Council Chair White, Council Member Guzman, Council Member Hokama, Council Services’ David Raatz, Corporation Counsel’s Jennifer Oana and Mayor Arakawa. None of them has ever responded, nor has anyone initiated any action to correct and stop the growing harm that public documents now prove is being done to our community.
The County Council must act immediately before budget hearings preempt all other actions, to repeal the Upcountry Water Bill and stop this extraordinary exploitation of Maui County Taxpayers.
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