Maui Medical Plaza

The proposed Maui Medical Plaza at Kanaha was awarded a Special Management Area (SMA) permit in August of 2011 at a time when the property was more than two years delinquent on its property taxes.  The developers each declared personal bankruptcy shortly after SMA approval; liens were filed against the development by a long list of contractors not paid for their services. Now, three years after the SMA approval the developers, owing more than $120,000 in back taxes, are given a special payment plan by Maui County.

The County’s Dept. of Finance recently accepted a down payment of $30,297 with a second payment of $9,089. due on June 20th.  In requesting 2013-14 records from Dept. of Finance we find that only one other property owing a similar amount ($126,000) with a payment plan.  Scheduled payments for that property are to be paid in full within six months.  The Medical Plaza at Kanaha, with very public financials problems, was given a more lenient payment plan to be completed in a year.

The Wailuku Kahului Community Plan says that “Drainage channels should not be used for building sites but rather for public open space” adding that we should “Protect shoreline wetland resources and flood plain areas as valuable natural systems and open space resources.”  The plan explicitly states “Future development actions should emphasize flood prevention and protection of the natural landscape” and that “Higher building forms up to six stories should be sited in the central portion of commercial blocks.

In commenting on the project the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believed that the state wildlife preserve at Kanaha was essential for the preservation of Hawaii’s endemic waterbirds.
The County’s Planning Dept. also had concerns that the project’s construction activities would result in “irreparable damages to the immediate site and potentially the entire Kanaha Pond Wildlife Sanctuary.

Hawaii’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife in its 2009 letter to the Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) stated it “strongly feels that the wetland status of this site should be valued and that no filling and construction be allowed.”  They encouraged ACOE “to protect this wetland habitat from development, runoff, erosion, and fill.”

Somehow all of this was ignored by the Maui Planning Commission and the SMA permit was granted.  Only the developers’ dire financial situation and state water quality permits still being reviewed have prevented building at the site.

Why has the County given this sweet deal to developers of a highly controversial project with a shaky financial history?  Mayor Arakawa was a consultant for the project in between his terms of office. Once back on the 9th floor he sent a recommendation for the project, written on the Mayor’s letterhead, to the commission just as the SMA permit was being considered.  Could a similar recommendation have influenced the Dept. of Finance?

With the developer’s goal, as stated in the June 12th Maui News article, of breaking ground within the next three months, simple math shows that not even half the debt from the tax lien will be paid by the time digging begins.  The SMA permit is set to expire at the end of August and a request for extension of the permit has now been filed with the Planning Dept.

Please join Maui Tomorrow and others who care deeply for the state of our disappearing wetlands and write the Maui Planning Commission to ask that a public hearing take place in order to take a second look at this project and the many changes that have occurred since the permit was granted in 2011.

District Engineer

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Building 230

Fort Shafter, Hawaii 96858-5440

Here is a sample letter that was written:
District Engineer
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Building 230
Fort Shafter, Hawaii 96858-5440

As someone who cares deeply about the natural resources of Maui I respectfully request that the Army Corps of Engineers reconsider the issuance of a final permit for the proposed Kanaha Professional Plaza, also known as the Maui Medical Plaza at Kanaha (2.49 acres adjacent to Kanaha Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Kahului, Maui).

Wetland habitats in the Hawaiian Islands are severely restricted with approximately 31 percent of Hawaii’s coastal plan wetlands now lost.  Given Hawaii’s renewed commitment to sustainability, including consideration of expected sea level rise due to global climate change, large projects in wetland areas need greater scrutiny.

The Kanaha Professional Plaza project was conceived and presented before (1) the adoption of the state’s 2050 Plan, (2) pronouncement contained in the recently enacted state Aloha+ Challenge (which targets better management of natural resources) and (3) scientific consensus documenting the reality of global climate change and expected sea level rise. The parcel of land upon which this project is to be built is not only located in precious and critical heritage wetlands, but is also just a few feet above sea level.

Some of the questions that need exploration and discovery include:
(1) the elevation of the subject property,
(2) assessment of the project’s vulnerability to sea level rise according to most recent scientific data and calculations,
(3) assessment of vulnerability to storm surges and tsunamis
(4) the proposed project’s consistency with
(a) the current state of technical knowledge and
(b) state plans and policies.

Please also consider the project’s poor financial status including the developer’s personal bankruptcy.  Over $120,000 in delinquent property taxes are owed to the County of Maui; numerous project consultants have been left unpaid; and the financial assurances for wetland mitigation agreement between the developer and the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust have been largely ignored with over $70,000 still owed to HILT.

Thank you for your consideration of revisiting this project before a final permit is issued.

[name, address]

North Elevation Rendering

North Elevation Rendering


  1. Neida Bangerter says

    I sent this letter to the Maui Planning Dept. Hope it helps the cause.

    Aug 8,2014
    To whom it may concern,

    The proposed building of the Maui Medical Plaza,6 story structure next to Kanaha Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary in Kahului, needs serious reconsideration.

    The inherent problems with this project are as follows:

    1.It would create irreversible damages to Kanaha Sanctuary
    existing coastal wetlands and marsh soil lands which hold environmental, historic and cultural significance.
    2. The design does not meet with the Kahului Community Central Maui Plan. Do we really see any sense of a plan being followed in Kahului?
    3. The developer/owner from the mainland, has financial problems and has not paid the property tax.
    4. Hyped as a ” medical plaza” this original plan will not lure the Medical profession but instead will likely hold vacant spaces for rent at a premium price.
    5. This project has negative concerns from the F.A.A. the Fish and Wildlife Department, the Department of Health, Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Urban Design Review Board.

    We need the Planning Department to do the right thing offering a second public hearing to offer public testament and review the options.

    Ask yourself this. Where in Kahului do you find natural environmental beauty?
    It is our responsibility to preserve and protect the Kanaha Pond area before it is too late.

    Neida Bangerter
    Kula, Hawaii

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