Molokai Planning Commission Chairman Steve Chaikin explains the process for the Molokai Community Plan to Jade Bruhjell at the open house Saturday at the Kaunakakai Elementary cafeteria.
The update of the 2001 Molokai Community Plan began its three-year process Saturday with an open house marked by friendly county planning officials talking story, sharing chili and rice and gathering initial information in the Kaunakakai Elementary School cafeteria.
Maui County’s Long Range Planning Division will use the existing 2001 community plan as the foundation for this update. Lori Buchanan, of the Molokai Planning Commission, believes that this time around the county has “better tools to help the public” participate in the planning process.
Buchanan said the goals of the 2001 plan were not met because they were not “doable,” she said. “The county is better equipped and prepared to see this plan through,” she said.
One tool the county has at its disposal is a recently adopted Countywide Policy Plan, which is part of the County of Maui 2030 General Plan.
According to John Summers, planning program administrator for the county’s Long Range Division, the policy plan offers a broad foundation for meeting various county objectives, while the community plan “can be far more specific in how to respond to community needs.”
Another key tool identified by Summers is “significant advances” in the quality of the GIS, or Geographic Information System, maps and surveys of Molokai, “for the whole island and for each community as well.”
The next step is for a Community Plan Advisory Committee to spend six months reviewing the communities needs to develop a draft plan. A variety of community workshops will explore options for future land use, housing, transportation, infrastructure development, historic, cultural and environmental resource management as well as community design possibilities.
Long range planner for Maui County and former Molokai staff planner, Nancy McPherson, emphasizes that there will be several more community outreach events between now and the end of the year to collect more mana’o from the community. These events will also allow for participatory issues identification and idea and design brainstorming. The next events will be held in the fall of this year, but the county is still finalizing those dates.
“There will be more opportunities for the community to give their mana’o and participate in the process between now and December and we will be working harder to get the word out to the community well in advance,” said McPherson.
The CPAC begins meeting in the spring of 2011 to identify issues and opportunities that come out of a series of community engagement workshops and to start finalizing the draft plan.
The CPAC will be composed of 14 members, with two-thirds appointed by the county council and one-third by Mayor Charmaine Tavares or her predecessor.
Late in 2011 the Molokai Planning Commission will have six months to review the draft. Public hearings will take place to receive input on a detailed planning matrix.
The plan will be revised based on the MoPC comments and presented to the full Maui County Council for a 12-month review. After public hearings, the draft plan will be finalized and updated.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a strategy for implementation of the plan will be developed.
Around the Kaunakakai cafeteria Saturday were maps and posters asking the public to identify planning priorities for Molokai. Comments were written on sticky notes showing suggested revisions of the 2001 community plan.
Another 36 sticky notes could be seen on a poster under the question: “What kinds of strengths and resources does Molokai have?” Other suggestions were written on stickies and placed on a poster under headings such as “housing,” “economy,” infrastructure,” “cultural,” “environment,” “education” and “other.”
While there was a genuine sense of optimism in the room over the public involvement in the plan, others were skeptical about what kind of impact this updated plan will actually have.
“We’ve been through this before,” said community activist Walter Ritte. “It was very important then (in 2001) and it was put on the shelf.”
When asked how this plan could help Molokai’s future, Ritte said he was “not sure.” He did admit that this plan should better reflect changes that the island is going through now. In 2001, the plan never even used the word “sustainability,” according to Ritte. “We are the only Hawaiian island that can actually implement a truly sustainable future.”
Ritte did say the process has been improved by offering a variety of ways to receive community input. He added that he also liked the new planning staff.
David Yamashita, Kathleen Kerr and McPherson will be heading up the LRD staff in developing and implementing the Molokai Community Plan.
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