HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THIRTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2023
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO IMPORTANT AGRICULTURAL LANDS.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. In 2008, the legislature passed a package of incentives for lands designated as important agricultural lands pursuant to section 3 of article XI of the Hawaii state constitution. Enacted as Act 233, Session Laws of Hawaii 2008, the incentives were intended to promote agricultural viability, sustained growth of the agricultural industry, and the long-term use and protection of lands designated as important agricultural lands.
Act 233, Session Laws of Hawaii 2008, included a provision for landowners to develop, construct, and maintain farm dwellings and employee housing for farmers, employees, and their immediate family members on lands designated as important agricultural lands, provided that occupants of these dwellings are actively engaged in farming. Although intended as an incentive for the designation and agricultural use of important agricultural lands, it is unclear whether this provision, codified as section 205-45.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, imposes more restrictive standards for farm dwellings and employee housing on important agricultural lands than the existing standards for farm dwellings and employee housing on lands in the agricultural land use district in chapter 205, Hawaii Revised Statutes.
The lack of affordable housing for farmers and farm labor is an impediment to increasing food and non-food agricultural production in Hawaii. The legislature finds there is still a need for a means to develop housing for farmers and farm employees on lands designated as important agricultural lands that both reduces the cost and time required to supply such housing and ensures that the housing is used in conjunction with and located on an active farm and occupied by bona fide farmers and farm employees. This Act is also intended to ensure reduced infrastructure requirements for important agricultural lands pursuant to section 205-51, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to facilitate the provision of certain farmer and farm employee housing to meet agricultural industry needs.
The purposes of this Act are to:
(1) Establish a new section for applications to the counties that would facilitate development of housing for farmers and farm employees, provided that occupancy is restricted to active farmers and farm employees and their immediate family members, and clustering of the units is required to minimize the land taken out of agricultural production. The benefits and incentives of the county application process would include the following:
(A) Relief from county subdivision and certain infrastructure requirements; and
(B) Relief from applicable minimum lot sizes and dwelling unit limitations of the underlying county zoning;
(2) Amend section 205-46.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to include farm dwelling and farm employee housing clusters under a county priority permit processing procedure for facilities on lands designated as important agricultural lands; and
(3) Repeal section 205-45.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to eliminate what is perceived to be a restriction on farm dwellings on important agricultural lands that is stricter than what is allowed under the definition of farm dwelling in section 205-4.5(a)(4), Hawaii Revised Statutes.
SECTION 2. Chapter 205, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding to part III a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:
"§205-A Important agricultural lands incentive; farm cluster housing. (a) The purpose of this incentive is to provide an alternative means to develop housing for farmers and farm employees who actively and currently farm important agricultural lands that reduces costs and time while ensuring that the housing developed does not contribute to the loss of agricultural land to non-agricultural residential uses or residential sprawl.
(b) Notwithstanding section 205-51(b) and any other law to the contrary, a landowner or lessee of agricultural lands that are designated as important agricultural lands may apply to a county to develop, construct, and maintain farm cluster housing on the lands for rent to farmers and farm employees who actively and currently farm on important agricultural lands and their immediate family members. For the purposes of this section, "farm cluster housing" means a housing development that concentrates housing units and shared infrastructure in a compact area within the larger lot and minimizes the land area occupied by the housing development.
(c) Each county shall enact ordinances to allow farm cluster housing on important agricultural lands, which ordinance shall provide for:
(1) Conformance with the conditions in subsection (d);
(2) Exemption from subdivision of the land and other county subdivision ordinances;
(3) Priority review and processing;
(4) More units per lot than allowed by right by the underlying county zoning; and
(5) Submittal to the county of an agricultural plan or agricultural business plan that supports the plan for the farm cluster housing and evidence of a real property tax agricultural dedication granted by the county. The agricultural plan and agricultural tax dedication verification shall be submitted to the department of agriculture for review and comment prior to county action on the application.
(d) Farm cluster housing shall be subject to the following conditions:
(1) Farm cluster housing shall be allowed only on lots of record that are greater than or equal to ten acres;
(2) The primary occupant of each farm cluster housing unit shall be a farmer or farm employee who actively and currently farms the important agricultural lands upon which the farm cluster housing units are situated;
(3) The total land area upon which the farm cluster housing units and all appurtenances are situated shall occupy a contiguous block or area not more than five per cent of the lot of record or ten acres, whichever is less;
(4) The farm cluster housing units shall meet building code requirements and infrastructure requirements and standards reduced to the minimum necessary to ensure safe and healthful occupancy;
(5) Short-term vacation rental use of the farm cluster housing units shall be prohibited;
(6) The landowner or master lessee shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the restriction of occupancy of the farm cluster housing units to farmers or farm employees who are actively and currently farming the land, and their immediate family members, which restriction on use shall be clearly stated in the rental documents; and
(7) If farm cluster housing units are vacated as a result of the cessation of any agricultural operations on the land, the landowner or master lessee may rent the farm cluster housing units under the same restrictions imposed by this section to farmers or farm employees who are actively and currently farming other agricultural lands.
(e) The appropriate officer or agency charged with the administration of county zoning laws within each county shall be authorized to enforce the building and use restrictions in this section and impose penalties for violations of any provision of this section or the county permit.
(f) Farm dwellings and employee housing units on lands designated as important agricultural lands that are not processed as farm cluster housing pursuant to this section shall be subject to all applicable state laws, county ordinances, and rules."
SECTION 3. Section 205-46.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
§205-46.5[ ]] Agricultural processing facilities; farm
cluster housing; permits; priority.
(a) Any agency subject to this chapter
[ or title 13] that issues permits shall establish
and implement a procedure for the priority processing of permit applications and
renewals, at no additional cost to the applicant, for [ agricultural] the
(1) Agricultural processing facilities that process crops or livestock from an agribusiness; or
(2) Farm cluster housing developed pursuant to section 205-A,
provided that the majority of the lands held, owned, or used by the agribusiness or farm cluster housing applicant shall be land designated as important agricultural lands pursuant to this part, excluding lands held, owned, or used by the agribusiness or applicant in a conservation district.
Any priority permit processing procedure established pursuant to this section shall not provide or imply that any permit application filed under the priority processing procedure shall be automatically approved.
(b) As used in this section, "agribusiness" means a business primarily engaged in the care and production of livestock, livestock products, poultry, poultry products, apiary, horticultural or floricultural products, the planting, cultivating, and harvesting of crops or trees, or the farming or ranching of any plant or animal species in a controlled salt, brackish, or fresh water environment."
SECTION 4. Section 205-45.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is repealed.
[§205-45.5] Important agricultural land; farm dwellings
and employee housing. A landowner whose
agricultural lands are designated as important agricultural lands may develop, construct,
and maintain farm dwellings and employee housing for farmers, employees, and their
immediate family members on these lands; provided that: (1) The
farm dwellings and employee housing units shall be used exclusively by farmers and
their immediate family members who actively and currently farm on important agricultural
land upon which the dwelling is situated; provided further that the immediate family
members of a farmer may live in separate dwelling units situated on the same designated
land; (2) Employee
housing units shall be used exclusively by employees and their immediate family
members who actively and currently work on important agricultural land upon which
the housing unit is situated; provided further that the immediate family members
of the employee shall not live in separate housing units and shall live with the
employee; (3) The
total land area upon which the farm dwellings and employee housing units and all
appurtenances are situated shall not occupy more than five per cent of the total
important agricultural land area controlled by the farmer or the employee's employer
or fifty acres, whichever is less; (4) The
farm dwellings and employee housing units shall meet all applicable building code
requirements; (5) Notwithstanding
section 205-4.5(a)(12), the landowner shall not plan or develop a residential subdivision
on the important agricultural land; (6) Consideration
may be given to the cluster development of farm dwellings and employee housing units
to maximize the land area available for agricultural production; and (7) The
plans for farm dwellings and employee housing units shall be supported by agricultural
plans that are approved by the department of agriculture."]
SECTION 5. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and permit proceedings begun before its effective date under the use and district standards for the state agricultural land use district and underlying county zoning.
SECTION 6. In codifying the new section added by section 2 and referenced in section 3 of this Act, the revisor of statutes shall substitute appropriate section numbers for the letter used in designating the new section in this Act.
SECTION 7. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 8. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
Important Agricultural Lands
Repeals the provision for farm dwelling and farm employee housing on Important Agricultural Lands and adopts a new provision for farm cluster housing as an incentive for the designation of lands as Important Agricultural Lands pursuant to chapter 205, Hawaii Revised Statutes.
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.