“The Plan” and West Molokai Growth Issues (Part II)
Conservation Land Easements, More questions than answers
In Part 1 of this article I focused on the 10,560 acres of so called “conservation land” that fall into a category referred to as “Rural Landscape Easements” in Molokai Ranch’s Master Plan. In this article I will discuss the other 14,390 acres referred to as “Agricultural Easements.” These lands also play a significant role in “The Plan” and are being offered as part of a tradeoff to develop La’au Point. Again the same question has to be asked- Are these really conservation lands or does the Ranch really intend to use these areas as future development sites?
Over 8 years have passed since the current Molokai Ranch administration first revealed to the community its Ag development plans. Because of this gap in time it is easy to lose track of Molokai Ranch’s original intention with this portion of its West End Land holdings.
In the initial EC/EZ Process at a 1998 Environmental Subcommittee meeting, Harold Edwards, Vice President of Molokai Ranch at that time, unveiled Molokai Ranch’s Plan which included 15,000 acres of agricultural subdivisions which would create 1,350 additional gentlemen’s estates (5-20 acres in size). Harold Edwards also stated that the Ranch did not intend to use these large lot agricultural subdivisions to support diversified agriculture. At this same meeting Harold agreed that in all, the Ranch's new ag subdivisions would bring an estimated 15,050 additional residents to the island.
At the time of the original conception of this plan, Molokai Ranch had not yet purchased the La’au lands from Alpha USA. The original location for these 15,000 acres of Ag land was on the southern coast of Kaluako’i extending from Hale O Lono into the Punakou district. Although the current location of the proposed Agricultural Easements is different from that proposed in 1998, we still see almost the same amount of acreage being set aside, possibly with the same intention in mind.
In defense of these Agricultural Easements, Molokai Ranch states that only Farm dwellings will be allowed on such lands. This statement is rather misleading, and is representative of Molokai Ranch’s disingenuous approach to many different issues. Statements like “One Last Development;” “never ask for any more dinking water;” “The Public will be the ones to decide whether La’au will be developed;” are all promises meant to pacify and disarm the general population. The statement that “Only Farm dwellings will be allowed on these lands” is a glaring example. The legal classification of a “Farm” dwelling includes all of the houses in the Kaluako’i and Kawela subdivisions. In fact, John McAfee’s 10,000 square foot compound is categorized as a Farm Dwelling.
The “Agricultural Easements” and “Rural Landscape Easements” have yet to be subdivided into smaller portions of land, however questions arise as to whether or not the community would have a voice in the reclassification or subdivision of these lands. One foreseeable problem lies in the fact that these areas would be under a joint jurisdiction between Molokai Ranch and The Molokai Land Trust, making it possible to have the two largest landowners in the future pitted against the rest of Molokai. Thus far neither one of these groups have shown any real willingness to hear the majority voice of the community. This is ironic since the Ranch claims that the Molokai EC’s approval of its Master Plan represented the public’s wishes.
Are the Ranch’s Conservation lands really what they are proposed to be? Or are these areas really future development sites for “rural” mansions and 10,000 square foot “farm” dwellings?