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Unfounded attacks have no place when testifying for or against a bill

Tuesday, June 30, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kailea Moikeha
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By: Pamela Tumpap, For The Maui News

Last week, the Maui Chamber of Commerce, along with several other individuals, testified in support of a bill (PC21) to amend Chapter 2.80B of the Maui County Code relating to the general plan and community plans. The purpose of the bill is to codify a

long-standing county practice of using the zoning districts and the governing land use regulations to ensure consistency between zoning and the community plans. That is all. It is not meant to usurp the community plan process as some made it seem in their testimony.

The bill also was not meant to be controversial. It was considered a clarifying fix to address an area where the law is silent, but a consistent practice of employing the uses spelled out in the zoning code has been in place for the last 40 years. Today, when a parallel zoning use corresponds with a community plan use, all uses included in the zoning are permissible. The bill only applies to parallel uses and would not change uses in the community plan.

That said, some testifiers claimed that the bill would render the community plans useless or irrelevant, that developers were trying to "steer" the process, that council Planning Committee Chairman Don Couch erred in bringing the bill before the committee without first going to the planning commissions and had an agenda, etc. - all of which were untrue. The bill does not render the community plans useless, developers do not enact zoning or other laws, and corporation counsel clarified that the process allows Council Member Couch to bring the bill directly to the Planning Committee as he did and that the request for the fix is coming from the county.

So why the attacks, personal and otherwise, and questioning people's intent? That is unclear, but our community is on a sad path when this continues to be allowed. Testimony should be for or against a bill, with the testifier's stated reasons, minus unfounded attacks on others

We testified in support of this bill as we understood that without this clarification thousands of residents and businesses could be impacted. But, with testimony always taken before presentations and further reports, some testifiers made it seem that anyone who supported the bill did not care about the residents of Maui, our communities, transparency or the community plan process, which is also incorrect.

So, after all of the testimony was taken, nearly three hours worth, Planning Director Will Spence got his opportunity to explain why this fix is necessary and provided a slide show to demonstrate the county's current and historical practice. In reviewing the slides, he provided numerous examples of areas where uses are consistent with zoning and the stated community plan use but are not specifically named in the community plan. Since both zoning and the community plans are adopted by ordinance, there could be significant impacts in terms of rebuilding (should a disaster occur), financing, etc. if not spelled out.

Eyes suddenly opened as those present saw the many businesses, residences, churches, etc. that would be impacted throughout our community without such a fix. It was staggering to see, and it was not even close to an exhaustive list. Given this, it is now hard to claim that those who support the bill do not care about the community since the evidence shows otherwise.

The matter was referred back to the Planning Committee for more discussion. We have asked that the planning director's presentation be added to the county website to illustrate the challenge and harm to those affected if a correction is not made and will continue to work toward a winning solution. Please stay tuned.

* Pamela Tumpap is president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.

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