(Maui) Planning Preserves Cowboy Character
On the slopes of Haleakala, Maui's majestic 10,000-foot dormant volcano,
is a quaint historic town called Makawao. With origins in the upcountry
"paniolo," or Hawaiian cowboy lifestyle, Makawao still hosts the statewide rodeo
each Fourth of July weekend.
While a resurgence of tourism has spawned a new generation of galleries, boutiques and
shops, the town is governed by a special "business-country-town" zoning category
that requires strict design guidelines for new development.
Though upcountry Maui has grown significantly in population, Makawao has resisted
planning proposals that would have altered the character of the town. Developers tried to
get a 12-acre parcel in the center of town rezoned to allow construction of a huge retail
But public outcry over the plans persuaded local leaders to scrap the proposal. The
land, originally the estate of a New England sea captain, comprises pasture, open space, a
100-year-old house and huge, statuesque trees.
Surrounded by pineapple fields and pasture, the town has grown primarily in one
direction. By making some savvy land-use decisions, Makawao has fought off sprawl while
preserving its open space and rural charm.
On Hawaii's Maui, haphazard development is threatening the island's
rural character and legendary beaches while adding heavy stress to area roads and taxing
the island's fresh water supplies. Considering the impacts of current growth, adding more
sprawl to Maui is a dangerous idea.
But Spreckelsville Mauka, a 420-home subdivision, will do just that. Slated to be built
on prime agricultural land just outside the rural village of Paia, this development is
sprawl in the extreme.
Not only will this project double the population of the area, it will push water
supplies, roads and schools beyond capacity. Paia receives water from an already
overwhelmed aquifer system, sends its children to schools that are bursting at the seams
and has a single access road that is already gridlocked every evening during rush hour.
The county council voted to rezone the property to allow the development to proceed. But
the deal is not done, and if Maui follows its planning guidelines, this development will
not be built.