How Zoning Laws Can Affect the Maui Permitting Process (Part 3)

January 2, 2018
Vacation Rental Owners

When people’s dreams of owning a vacation rental or bed and breakfast on Maui include a vision of acres of land and lavish estates, there are some factors that need to be worked through first.

As mentioned in part one and part two of this series, we sat down with bed and breakfast owner and consultant Tom Croly to ask him some questions regarding the permitting process on Maui. 

Although there are some considerations and issues that may arise in the permitting process, he urges individuals that are overwhelmed by the process to keep moving along with the process or seek help if they feel stuck.

Tom provided much needed insight on one topic in particular: zoning laws.

Hawaii Chee: What zoning laws do potential owners need to take into consideration?

Tom: In Maui, if a home is on two or more acres of land, it’s likely agricultural land. If a vacation rental owner’s home is on agricultural land, more than 50% of the land has to be used for agricultural purposes.

Hawaii Chee: What happens if a potential rental owner’s home is on agricultural land?

Tom: First and foremost, the owner will be required to show that more than 50% of the land on the property is being used for agricultural purposes. This is done by getting the County to approve a “Farm Plan” and inspect that this plan has been fully implemented. 

Individuals can expect to go before the planning commission because they’ll need to prove that they are using their home primarily for agricultural purposes. Vacation rental owners will also need to get a Land Commission Special Use Permit.

Hawaii Chee: How do I increase my chances of being approved by the planning commission?

Tom: The planning commission is most concerned that the proposed short term rental use is accepted by the neighboring property owners and that it will be compatible with the agricultural uses both on the property and those in the area. 

There are many properties, especially in Kula and Haiku, that have big, beautiful open spaces and fruit, vegetables, cows, and other forms of farming activity. People appreciate this type of work, what it does for the community, and of course having more locally sourced foods.

When an individual buys a property and tears down all farming activity to turn the home into a large fancy estate with pools and gardens, the planning commission may be more inclined to find reasons to reject the permit.

Generally speaking, buying a vacation rental property that is agriculturally zoned will make for a trickier permitting process including a public hearing and additional costs. However, its worth it if a vacation rental owner gets approved because they will have a more unique property than most rentals on Maui.

Pris Lee

Aloha! I'm Pris and I am the head of marketing at Hawaii Chee. I'm quite partial to a good cup of coffee, hiking and horse back riding along the beach. And chocolate. Always chocolate...

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