See the video from Maui TV News
See the video from Maui TV News
See the video from Maui TV News
Although Councilmember Elle Cochran made a motion to return green areas to the plan (which the Council had removed), other members blocked the motion. Here is the Sierra Club testimony.
Sierra Club Maui Group Dec 4, 2012
PO Box 791180
Paia, HI 96779
RE: County Council Meeting of Dec.7, 2012 Agenda Item K.
ORDINANCES – FIRST READING “A BILL FOR AN ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTER 2.80B, MAUI COUNTY CODE, RELATING TO THE MAUI ISLAND PLAN”
Aloha Council Chair Mateo and Council Members
On November 27, we asked the Council to support stronger language in Chapter 8
This is the one policy in Chapter 8 that describes how the proposed Protected Areas, now shown on “Diagrams” E-1, NW-1, N-1, NE-1, S-1, SE-1, and WC-1 should be viewed during the County’s planning process.
Currently Policy 8.3.a specifies two things:
1..Diagrams of protected lands should be reviewed when a proposed land use may impact a protected area.
2. The County Council and the Administration should be notified if a protected area may be compromised.
We and many other community groups are concerned that this language does not indicate a clear policy on the County’s commitment to adequately plan for our “green Infrastructure.”
We respectfully ask that the Policy 8.3.a language be amended to include concepts supported by a number of the Alliance of Community Association members. (exact language below)
This would keep the majority of the existing language of Policy 8.3.a. and add two more concepts
1. Direct review bodies to support project development designs that exclude the proposed Protected Areas shown on the diagrams from impacts and give them appropriate protection.
—–This language connects the dots and gives a clear planning policy directive. It commits to a reasonable and cost effective preservation strategy through project design (which can include the Transfer of Development Rights referred to in Table 8-2) .
—-It directs County development review to support “smart growth”–growth directed away from natural and cultural resource zones and balanced by preservation. The public supports this approach and Many MIP policies do as well.
Specify that Protected Area on the “Diagrams” are included during the Community Plan update process. This aspect is not mentioned in the current policy language, yet, many of these areas are already on existing Community Plan maps.
—Adding this language allows Policy 8.3.a to be consistent with existing community plans.
and gives a specific implementation process for communities and decision makers to follow to implement preservation goals.
Please consider making these important changes before the MIP is passed.
No one understands why the Directed Growth Maps have changed. For five years everyone: public, planning staff and citizen review bodies all supported maps that showed both growth areas and “green” areas. Thats how the decisions to recommend growth boundaries were made. The County Charter calls for the General Plan to include “existing and future land use patterns and planned growth.” Our former maps did this. Preservation is a “land use pattern.”
If the Council is unwilling to revert to the maps the public thought they were supporting: maps with growth balanced by preservation, then the Council MUST act to give Policy 8.3.a meaningful language, such as that suggested below:
Amend MIP policy 8.3.a to read: (proposed new language in bold and underlined)
“The Protected Areas in Diagrams E-1, NW-1, N-1, NE-1, S-1, SE-1, and WC-1 should be concurrently reviewed with Table 8-2 and with any proposed State Land Use, Community Plan Amendment, or County Zoning application or other land use approval that may result in an adverse impact on a Protected Area. The Maui Planning Commission, County Council and the Administration shall support development project designs which exclude the proposed Protected Areas from project impacts and afford them appropriate levels of protection. Updated Community Plan maps shall include Protected Areas described in the MIP and found on Diagrams E-1, NW-1, N-1, NE-1, S-1, SE-1, and WC-1, or as modified during CAC review.”
Existing Policy 8.3.a
“The Protected Areas in Diagrams E-1, NW-1, N-1, NE-1, S-1, SE-1, and WC-1should be concurrently reviewed with Table 8-2 and with any proposed land uses that may result in an adverse impact on a Protected Area. The County Council and the Administration should be notified if a Protected Area may be compromised by a development proposal.”
Lucienne de Naie, Conservation Chair
State Tax Proposal Would Slam the Brakes on Solar Energy, Hawai‘i Jobs
HONOLULU – Today, the Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, filed a legal challenge in state circuit court to the Hawai‘i Department of Taxation’s recent decision to cut back on tax credits for residents and businesses that install solar energy systems. The Department’s new interpretation of the solar credit – which was announced November 9, 2012 and goes into effect January 1, 2013 – will drastically reduce the availability of the Hawai‘i renewable energy tax credit for solar photovoltaic systems and threatens Hawai‘i’s progress in promoting renewable energy and in weaning itself off fossil fuels.
Sierra Club Hawai‘i Chapter Director Robert D. Harris said, “Since the Department announced it was cutting support for solar energy systems, we’ve heard from hundreds of our members across the state who say they will no longer be able to afford to install solar panels on their roofs. We’ve also heard of investors pulling out of several large-scale commercial projects because the reduced credit makes the projects unviable. This goes completely against what the Legislature tried to accomplish in enacting and expanding the solar tax credit.”
The legal challenge says the Department’s new rule conflicts with the law’s aim of encouraging widespread adoption of residential and commercial solar energy systems, which are vital for Hawai‘i to reach its goal of 40% of its energy coming from locally generated, renewable sources by 2030.
Hawai‘i has a strong reason to encourage a shift to renewable energy, especially rooftop solar energy systems. Historically, Hawai‘i has relied on power from imported oil and coal for nearly all of its energy needs, at great expense to homeowners and businesses alike. Bathed in sun year round, Hawai‘i is well positioned to being the first state to shed its dependence on dirty, increasingly expensive fossil fuels.
“The Administration is wrongly slamming the brakes on one of the few success stories in achieving Hawai‘i’s clean energy goals,” said Harris. The Department’s new interpretation would slash the average tax credit to homeowners and businesses that install solar energy systems by about half. It also threatens the future of thousands of solar energy workers in one of Hawai‘i’s strongest growth sectors.
“By suddenly and dramatically clamping down on the solar tax credit, the Department is damaging a major engine of economic growth,” said economist Thomas Loudat. “The solar industry accounts for over 15 percent of all construction expenditures in the state. When those companies start going belly up because folks can’t afford to install solar systems, we’re going to have a lot of unemployed workers, which is going to impose huge costs on Hawai‘i’s taxpayers.”
“Thousands of jobs like mine are at stake,” said Steve Mazur, a solar energy employee and Sierra Club member. “We don’t want to see companies destroyed and livelihoods threatened because Governor Abercrombie simply wasn’t willing to discuss a rational updating of the tax code.”
Among the hardest hit from the rule change are lower-income groups, including many local households that cannot afford to install solar systems without an adequate credit.
“We’ve just gotten to the point where the cost has come down enough for the less well-off to be able to afford or lease solar panels,” said economist Thomas Loudat. “By dramatically cutting the tax credit, the Department of Taxation is jacking the price back up, so that the average Hawai‘i resident is less likely to enjoy the benefits of solar. Those least able to afford it are going to be forced to pay for electricity generated from increasingly expensive fossil fuels.”
The Department changed its interpretation of the solar credit after asking the State Legislature to pass a similar reduction to the credit last session, which the Legislature refused to do.
“In our democracy, the Legislature makes clean energy policy, not the Department of Taxation,” Earthjustice attorney David Henkin said. “If the Department thinks the solar credit law should be changed, it can go to the Legislature and make its case, like everyone else. Until then, its job is to implement the law, not unilaterally – and illegally – change it.”
Hawai`i Chapter of the Sierra Club
Founded in 1968, the Hawai`i Chapter of the Sierra Club is the state’s largest and most active grassroots environmental organization. The Club actively promotes reducing the impacts of global climate change by encouraging the development of clean renewable energy, reducing the use of fossil fuels, and ensuring our fragile native habitat is protected from harm. www.sierraclubhawaii.com
Earthjustice is the nation’s leading non-profit environmental law firm. The Mid-Pacific Office opened in Honolulu in 1988 and represents environmental, Native Hawaiian, and community organizations. Earthjustice is the only non-profit environmental law firm in Hawai‘i and the Mid-Pacific and does not charge clients for its services. For more information, visit www.earthjustice.org.
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State Tax Proposal Would Slam the Brakes on Solar Energy, Jobs in Hawai`i
HONOLULU, HAWAII – Today, Governor Neil Abercrombie announced a drastic, potentially devastating cut to the Hawai`i’s successful tax credit for solar energy. The proposal would reduce by approximately 50 percent the tax credit for homeowners and businesses that install solar energy systems. The solar industry is one of Hawai`i’s strongest growth sectors, and the state’s proposal threatens the future of thousands of workers and jeopardizes recent progress in weaning Hawai`i off dirty, imported fossil fuels.
HONOLULU, HAWAII – Today the Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club, the state’s largest environmental grassroots organization with over 12,000 members and supporters, unveiled a campaign to repeal the Public Lands Development Corporation (PLDC). Based on the concerns raised by thousands of worried residents, the Sierra Club is encouraging legislators to publicly commit to repealing the PLDC.
The PLDC was created by Act 55 in 2011, with the express purpose of developing public lands to generate additional revenue for the state. Countless individuals and organzations have expressed concern about the law’s no-bid contract provisions, the slant towards developing public resources instead of conservation, and the creation of a semi-autonomous agency exempted from routine oversight of state and county government. Many of the more controversial aspects of the law were added at the end of session with a two-hour hearing notice to the public (see this blog post for more information).
“The Sierra Club and its members have gone to great lengths to work with the PLDC, including proposing ways to reasonably improve the draft administrative rules,” said Robert D. Harris, Director of the Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter. “These suggestions have largely been ignored. With the PLDC’s recent effortsto exclude the public from commenting and the adoption of a toothless strategic plan, it appears our only alternative is to push for a repeal of the PLDC.”
“We’re encouraging our members and supporters to reach out to candidates to express their concern about the PLDC,” said Harris. “We believe our legislators listen to the public. A large number of candidates are already publicly supporting a repeal of the PLDC ,” continued Harris. “This isn’t suprising. What is surprising is how few candidates are willing to publicly support the PLDC. Candidates are starting to see the beleagured PLDC as a sinking ship.”
The Sierra Club is going further and directly supporting candidates that have taken strong positions on the PLDC. In at least three races, the Sierra Club has issued districtwide mailers in an effort to educate the public about the issues. Tens of thousands of mailers about the PLDC issue have been sent in House District race 20 (see front and back), House District race 6 (front, back), and Senate District race 25 (front and back).
“The Sierra Club is proud to support candidates that are willing to draw the line on the PLDC,” said Harris. “As a watchdog environmental organization, it is our obligation to raise the public’s awareness about the implications of this law and notify the public about the candidates who support it.”
Hawai`i Chapter of the Sierra Club
Founded in 1968, the Hawai`i Chapter of the Sierra Club is the state’s largest and most active grassroots environmental organization. The Club actively promotes reducing the impacts of global climate change by encouraging the development of clean renewable energy, reducing the use of fossil fuels, and ensuring our fragile native habitat is protected from harm. www.sierraclubhawaii.org
That’s the conclusion reached by some of the nation’s most-respected environmental organizations – The Sierra Club, The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Action Fund and Ocean Champions – in the wake of Lingle’s relentless attacks against Mazie Hirono’s sensible and sustainable approach to U.S. energy policy.
“Rather than recycling her party leadership’s tired, Washington talking points on oil drilling, Linda Lingle would be wise to join Mazie Hirono and the people of Hawaii in taking a more responsible and renewable approach to America’s energy future,” said Robert Harris, Director of the Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter.
“Linda Lingle is not only advocating for expanded oil drilling offshore along East Coast and Gulf of Mexico states, she also supports drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with the hollow caveat ‘as long as ‘environmental safeguards’ are in place,’” said Michael Dunmyer, Executive Director of Ocean Champions. “But recent history and experience show us that, when it comes to drilling and transporting oil, Lingle’s so-called ‘safeguards’ guarantee nothing.”
Following 2010’s massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, there have already been hundreds of on-land drilling accidents in 2012 alone. This past April, for example, an Exxon Mobil crude oil pipeline ruptured and spilled oil 80,000 gallons onto land in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana. The site of the spill sits directly between two wildlife refuges.
In recent days, Lingle has not only lashed out at Hirono’s sensible opposition to increased domestic drilling in America’s most environmentally sensitive areas, but has also mocked Hirono’s call for a stronger national Renewable Energy Standard (RES) which would enable more clean-energy production, create renewable-energy jobs and lower energy costs for businesses and middle-class families. Rarely avoiding an opportunity to lob personal insults at her opponent, Lingle even derided Hirono for “a fundamental lack of knowledge” about renewable-energy policy – despite Lingle’s own embrace of her party’s short-sighted “Drill, Baby, Drill” approach to energy and rejection of a national RES.
In denouncing both Lingle’s attacks on Hirono and her posture on energy policy, the three prominent environmental organizations highlighted the responsible national Renewable Energy Standard (RES) Hirono has proposed, which would facilitate clean energy production, create jobs, and reduce consumer costs.
“Mazie Hirono understands that an investment in renewable energy is an investment in Hawaii’s economy and America’s workforce. Whether it’s leading the fight for a stronger national Renewable Energy Standard (RES) or laying out a detailed plan for a more sustainable Hawaii, Mazie has the right solutions to move Hawaii and America toward energy independence,” said LCV Action Fund President Gene Karpinski. “It’s a bit strange that Lingle is calling for more domestic drilling and refusing to put America on the same path Hawaii has chosen via the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. It’s probably not a coincidence that the Big Oil and corporate polluters have contributed nearly $200,000 to Lingle’s campaign.”
Sierra Club Maui has submitted extensive comments on the Wailea 670 EIS through the whole process. Thanks to our comments, some parts of the EIS were improved.
The Maui PlanningCommission, as accepting authority, reviewed the Final EIS yesterday. Several areas of the EIS were clearly inadequate or evasive, however, the Planning Depart staff told the Commission it was complete, the Commissioners asked questions for a few hours, and then voted to accept it.
Below are Maui Group comments. They are consistent with our past comments that Chapter 343 actually requires examination of alternative actions to include “a rigorous exploration and objective evaluation of the environmental benefits and costs of the proposed action..”
Our comments noted that the alternative of a 130 acre preserve and a development footprint of 540 acres did not receive factual analyses but was dismissed through unsupported assumptions. For example, the EIS stated that a “substantial number” of units would need to be relocated, but gave no specific number.
The analyses did not provide any discussion of infrastructure costs that could be avoided for roads, sewer hook ups, water lines, etc if the 130 acres did not have housing development and what tradeoff that would be to offset costs of providing the additional infrastructure in the northern 80% of the property.
We submitted an alternative project design map showing the southern 20% of the parcel as preserve, but with four and a half proposed golf course holes in that section left in place. The rational for this was that the number of holes in this section was originally proposed to be 10. Then it was eight, then six, now four and a half. Golf course greens, while not ideal for cultural preservation, are somewhat flexible.
The FEIS’s strongest case against leaving the 130 acres as preserve was that it could force the whole golf course to be eliminated as well as eliminate the proposed holding ponds to mix brackish and reclaimed water.
By leaving the holes on the map, that argument disappears. CH 343 requires that alternatives be considered even if they cost more.
If 504 Single Family lots, which are now proposed to be sprawled over a total 274 acres, were compacted by 50 acres and all fit into the northern 80% of the land, the 50 acres now proposed for single family view homes in the southern 20% of the land where the 130 acre preserve is needed, could be left as native plant habitat.
Instead of a 130 acre preserve, W670 is proposing a 40-acre native habitat easement in the southern 20% of the land. This area leaves out many concentrations of native plants. They are “offsetting” that loss by offering to fence around 250 acres of Ulupalakua Ranch Land in Kanaio. W670 spokesman, Jencks told the Maui Planning Commission that he is letting Ulupalakua Ranch use his W670 well waters for construction water during the ‘Auwahi windmill road building, in “trade” for this easement.
USFWS still wants the 130 acres, (July 3, 2012 letter) but may be under pressure to settle for 40. What is not being discussed in the Wailea 670 Final EIS is the fact that the Kanaio habitat is at 3,000 foot elevation , while the Palauea -Keauhou habitat (Wailea 670) is located between 400 and 800 ft elevation. These are the rarest dryland habitats. It is these lowland habitats for the endangered Blackburn sphinx moths and various native dryland forest plants that USFWS and others hope to keep viable. The lands of Wailea 670 are an important link because they are located between Puu o Kali and Ahihi-Kinau dryland forest preserve areas.
This is why most of the southern 20% of Wailea 670 lands are being proposed for critical habitat by the USFWS for the rare awikiwiki vine as it is being evaluated to be listed as an endangered species. To shrink the possible habitat available in Wailea 670, just does not make biological sense. To redesign the project, while it is still in a relatively fluid state, does make sense.
Sierra Club Comments on Wailea 670 EIS follow:
From: Lucienne de Naie July 24, 2012
Sierra Club Maui Group
P.O. Box 610
Haiku, HI 96708
To: Maui County Planning Commission
Re: Honua’ula LLC Final EIS Hearing
Greetings Chair Hiranaga and Commission Members,
One of the main purposes of an EIS is to analyze alternatives to the proposed action.
• The Honua’ula Draft EIS discussed six alternative proposals, but included no plan with a 130 acre preserve. Maui Planning Commission asked the applicants to include this alternative in the FEIS.
The Honua’ula Final EIS included the 130 acre preserve design option specified in its conditions of zoning, but dismissed it by providing broad generalizations, rather than factual comparisons.
We ask that the Commission not find this section acceptable.
Our laws specify a very different approach, asking that
1) “particular attention be given to alternatives that enhance environmental quality, avoid, reduce or minimize some or all of the project’s adverse environmental affects, costs and risks…”
2) “rigorous exploration and objective evaluation of the environmental impacts..” and
The project design of Wailea 670 is governed by four documents.
Condition 27 of Ordinance 3554 requires a “preservation/mitigation plan for the conservation of native Hawaiian plants and significant cultural sites in Kihei-Makena Project District 9..” be established by easement in perpetuity. A minimum preservation standard is defined as …”The Easement shall comprise the portion of the property south of latitude 20°40’15.00″N, excluding any portions that the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the United States Corps of Engineers find do not merit preservation, but shall not be less than 18 acres and shall not exceed 130 acres.”
We are submitting, for purposes of discussion, a map that portrays the project with the130 acre preservation standard with three and a half golf course holes incorporated into the preservation area design. The single family and multi family homes proposed within the 130 acre preservation area, as defined above, would be shifted to the northern 540 acres of the project.
Most advocates of “Smart Growth” favor compact development patterns such as this map suggests, to minimize costs of distribution of infrastructure, road building etc. and protect unique resources. The EIS should analyze this option and supply adequate financial estimates of costs to permit an actual comparison of options. A value should also be placed on the existing 130 acre dryland forest ecosystem and its biological services.
• Would allow historic Kalama-Kanaio Road to remain along its present alignment rather than be rerouted as is presently proposed and conform to the map in Title 19.90A.
The FEIS does not inform us of the number of proposed homes in the 130 acre preserve , so our discussion is based on theoretical numbers until those specifics are provided to this Commission and the public as is required for “analyses sufficiently detailed to allow the comparative evaluation” of alternatives.
The density parameters in documents defining the project have flexibility. In Title 19.90A the minimum lot size in the SF subdistrict is 7,500 sq ft,. The FEIS speaks to having SF lot sizes between 7,000 and 20,000 sq ft. Ordinance 3554 specifies an average density of 2.5 units /ac or less and the LUC Findings of Fact specify SF at 3.1 to 4.1 units/ac.
While the LUC approved a document that proposed 2,000 units, two golf courses and several lodges on site, both the proposed plan and the LUC version have the range of SF units around 500. One solution to shifting the proposed SF units from the Preserve to the North would be to pursue the average density specified in the LUC approval: 3 units/acre instead of the average density in Ord. 3554 of 2.5 units/ac.
The shift of the Multifamily units could be considered in several ways, once again, the proposed unit count would need to be known. The VMX subdistrict is defined in all the documents as a:
“..community center comprised of a mix of residential, commercial, and recreational and community facilities serving the needs of residents and guests.”
The FEIS refers to the residential use in the VMX district, but does not assign one housing unit to the VMX district. If the MF units from the Preservation area were shifted into the VMX zone, even at the low density of 6 units/ac above proposed businesses and shops at least 150 MF units could be accommodated on 25 of the 53 acres of VMX. Only 196 market priced MF units are proposed on 60 acres. If half (100) were proposed for the preserve area, it would seem feasible to accommodate them through this shift. This would create a VMX which actually fits the description proposed, without pushing more density into the existing MF areas.
Sierra Club Maui urges the Commission to request that the applicant consider this alternative design option in the EIS.
Lucienne de Naie
Sierra Club Conservation Committee.