Sunday, September 23, 2007

Maui Vacation Rental Association Contemplates Lawsuit to Block Maui County from Enforcing its Zoning Ordinance

The Maui News, TVR owners resist county crackdown on operations (Sept. 23, 2007), reports that land owners in the agriculture district on Maui (who operate an illegal TVR) will sue the county to stop it form enforcing its zoning ordinance. Under the county’s current zoning laws, TVRs are allowed only in the hotel district. For further discussion on TVRs, see my previous entry here.

According to the article, the land owner's position is that his property is not suitable for agriculture. This may be true. Over 45 percent of the state’s lands are in the state agricultural district; however, experts have said that a much smaller portion is actually commercially viable agricultural land. So if the agricultural land that the land owners have is not viable agriculture land, it's in the wrong district and potentially requires rezoning, community plan amendment, and/or state land use district boundary amendment.

It's troubling to see that land owners would rather endure the cost and uncertainty of litigation over following the regulatory process. Ultimately, the answer for all potential TVR owners may be a legislative fix, which the county's past administration resisted. Maui’s current laws may be considered too restrictive; if so, it should be amended to allow TVRs in other districts with similar considerations and mitigation measures found under its bed and breakfast law.

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