Tonight's speaker was Jeff Hunt, Maui County Planning Director. Jeff described his job: to look at the 'plan' submitted by the general planning advisory committee (GPAC) and point out the pros/cons of the plan to our County council, who decide whether or not to approve the plan. If the plan is approved, the planning director is then responsible for implementing the plan. He suggested a number of ways to become involved in the planning process. Most projects require public hearings and we should submit comments and concerns at each step of the process. He also suggested we send at least one official representative from our organization and submit written testimony as well with an official letter head.
There was discussion about urban growth boundaries. The planning department is set up to encourage growth inside the boundary and discourage growth outside of the boundary and there are certain criteria that must be met to change this boundary. There are a lot of questionable practices that are being allowed concerning Agriculture subdivisions and we need to adopt policies so that residents can keep control of ag subdivisions and not allow obvious scoffs of the law. Also, presently, there is no public hearing required to create an ag subdivision.
According to Jeff, we need to focus more on pro active planning than reactionary planning and base our community plan on the desires of our community over the infrastructure limitations because if your only reason for stopping a development is that the infrastructure won't support it, developers will find a way to make the infrastructure work so it is better to plan for what the community wants. We have the opportunity to be involved with that in the island wide plan that will be updated on the West side in July/August and our community plan update in 2008