|Agricultural Lands on the Island of Hawaii|
The agricultural district restricts uses and structures to those enumerated under HRS §§ 205-2, 205-4.5, and 205-4.6. In particular, "[a]ctivities or uses as characterized by the cultivation of crops, crops for bioenergy, orchards, forage, and forestry" are allowed. See HRS § 205-2(d)(1). Non-agricultural uses are also allowed in the agricultural district, for example, wind farms and open area recreational facilities. Farm dwellings and employee housing are also allowed within the agricultural district.
The IAL designation is the state's attempt to preserve agricultural land above and beyond land already in the agricultural district. IAL is governed by HRS § 205-41, et seq. The purpose of the statute is to fulfill the promise of Article XI, § 3 of the Hawaii Constitution, which provides as follows:
Section 3. The State shall conserve and protect agricultural lands, promote diversified agriculture, increase agricultural self-sufficiency and assure the availability of agriculturally suitable lands. The legislature shall provide standards and criteria to accomplish the foregoing.Before the Commission can designate land as IAL, it must consider eight criteria, which is above and beyond the criteria considered for the agricultural district. These criteria are enumerated under HRS § 205-44 as follows:
Lands identified by the State as important agricultural lands needed to fulfill the purposes above shall not be reclassified by the State or rezoned by its political subdivisions without meeting the standards and criteria established by the legislature and approved by a two-thirds vote of the body responsible for the reclassification or rezoning action.
- Land currently used for agricultural production;
- Land with soil qualities and growing conditions that support agricultural production of food, fiber, or fuel- and energy-producing crops;
- Land identified under agricultural productivity rating systems, such as the agricultural lands of importance to the State of Hawaii (ALISH) system adopted by the board of agriculture on January 28, 1977;
- Land types associated with traditional native Hawaiian agricultural uses, such as taro cultivation, or unique agricultural crops and uses, such as coffee, vineyards, aquaculture, and energy production;
- Land with sufficient quantities of water to support viable agricultural production;
- Land whose designation as important agricultural lands is consistent with general, development, and community plans of the county;
- Land that contributes to maintaining a critical land mass important to agricultural operating productivity; and
- Land with or near support infrastructure conducive to agricultural productivity, such as transportation to markets, water, or power.
There are two processes by which the Commission designates IAL. The first is voluntary by landowners, and the second is through maps prepared by the counties There are incentives for seeking a voluntary IAL designation for private landowners, which include the following:
- Fast-tracked approval process for the designation of IAL
- Simultaneous fast-tracked urban designation if 85 percent of the land in a petition is designated as IAL. This is commonly referred to as the "85/15 incentive."
- Tax credits on investments in IAL infrastructure.
- Voluntary designation allows landowners to select which or their lands will be designated IAL. HRS § 205-49 provides that "if the majority of landowners' landholdings is already designated as important agricultural lands . . . the commission shall not designate any additional lands of that landowner as important agricultural."