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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 9, 2001

Applications for Maui youth facility withdrawn

By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Maui County Bureau

WAILUKU, Maui — A planned treatment center for troubled youths that ran into a buzz saw of opposition from residents of a rural Upcountry community will not be built — at least for now.

Maui Youth and Family Services Inc. has withdrawn applications for a state Land Use Commission special use permit and conditional permit to build a $5.5 million residential facility on 10 acres off Oma'opio Road in Lower Kula.

However, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit social service agency said the group plans to resubmit the Oma'opio applications at a later date.

"It's going to happen," Carol Clark said yesterday. "It's a worthy project and a great location. This needs to happen and it will.''

The postponement of the project became necessary, in part, with the lapsing of the availability of $2 million in state money, Clark said. As a result, MYFS needs to find more money.

"We're glad they've taken it off the table,'' said Anthony Ranken, the attorney representing the residents opposed to the facility. "But we hope that instead of regrouping and trying again, that they would come up with a more appropriate site instead of an agricultural community where it is not wanted.''

A petition to intervene before the Maui Planning Commission was amended last month, boosting the number of intervenors from 53 to 222.

According to the latest petition, the project for "troubled youth with destructive tendencies'' would have "grave effects'' on the community.

The family of Maui County Councilman Alan Arakawa is planning to donate the land.

He said he's in the process of subdividing the land, some 46 acres, and still plans to donate 10 acres to Maui Youth and Family Services.

"I still have every intention of helping the youth of our community,'' he said. "At the end of the day, someone has to take care of those who can't help themselves.''

As proposed, the center would provide residential treatment for about 30 youths from age 12 to 19 "who have been abused or neglected, have behavioral health challenges or are troubled," according to the MYFS application.