The Business Next Door

Island planners discuss possibility of allowing home-spun businesses.
By Jennifer Smith

How would you feel if your neighbor decided to set up a small business in their home? Commissioners and community members discussed the potential of Service Business Residential (SBR) zone’s on Molokai last week Wednesday during the Molokai Planning Commission (MoPC) meeting.

“We’ve got to be very careful,” said Judy Caparida, Molokai resident. She described the attempt to bring SBRs to Molokai by referring to it as “Maui’s mongoose” trying to sneak into Molokai. 

The biggest concern from commissioners came over how to enforce SBRs. Commission Chairman Steve Chaikin compared SBRs to art, in that they are interpretational, and therefore difficult to regulate.

“It’s my job as a planner to kind of be that crystal ball for the community,” Commissioner Lori Buchanan said, explaining that the commission must account for unexpected consequences. In order to make well-informed decisions, she asked for future decisions over SBRs to come back to the MoPC instead of being left up to the Planning Director’s discretion. 

There are “so many built in check points,” said Joe Alueta, Maui County planner. In his presentation to the MoPC, he said that even if the bill passed, individuals interested in beginning a small business on their residence would have to overcome a number of obstacles.

SBRs must first be recognized in a community plan, and they are not in Molokai’s community plan that is currently under review. To get SBRs in the community plan an individual would have to propose an amendment and provide an environmental assessment, which would require a public hearing.

If SBRs were in the community plan, individuals would then need to apply to the county for a zoning change, which would come before county counsel and the MoPC.

A motion in 1996 to accept SBRs failed. However, after nearly three hours of questions over the merits and consequences of the bill, a motion to accept SBRs passed during the last MoPC meeting.



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