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Selling the Rail Proposal (Charles Carole)
Milestone in Preserving Agriculture in Hawaii (Pearl Johnson)
Corrections (Pearl Johnson)
Slower Oahu Population Growth (Charles Carole)
Rail and Ann Kobayashi's Election (Pearl Johnson)
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Milestone in Preserving Agriculture in Hawaii

An important milestone was reached in June when Alexander & Baldwin’s (A&B) designation of over 30,000 acres as Important Agricultural Land (IAL) was accepted by the state Land Use Commission.

Lawmakers initially passed a law in 2005 that established a process for private landowners and county governments to designate prime agricultural land. That law fulfilled a mandate issued nearly 30 years earlier at the 1978 Constitutional Convention requiring the state to identify such land so it could be protected from development. Incentives to encourage protection passed the Legislature last year as Act 233.

There can be incentives to seek designation: landowners can seek fast-track reclassification of such lands into urban use for 15 percent of the acreage in an application, if 85 percent of the application is for important agricultural designation. However, A&B as part of its petition to the Land Use Commission, waived all rights to seek any reclassification of land for urban or rural use in connection to the nearly 31,000 acres being preserved. A&B could have sought to convert 4,632 acres for urban or rural use under the law.

The approval by the state Land Use Commission allows A&B to seek financial benefits from the state that could help shore up what have been money-losing agricultural operations for the company.

On Maui, A&B protected 27,105 acres in ag use by subsidiary Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., the largest sugar producer in the state. On Kaua'i, the company protected 3,773 acres in ag use mostly by subsidiary Kaua'i Coffee Co.

Owners of lands designated as Important Agricultural Land will face additional hurdles when applying to rezone those lands for development. Keeping those lands in the production of food in perpetuity is the purpose of the 1978 constitutional amendment.

Pearl Johnson

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