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Planning Commission Defers Extension Request for Subdivision Proposal off Ali‘i Drive

By Tom Hasslinger
April 21, 2022, 5:00 PM HST
* Updated April 21, 4:21 PM
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The proposed subdivision would sit mauka of Ali’i Drive at the south end of Naniloa Street adjacent to the White Sands Beach Estates and Keauhou View Estates Subdivisions. PC Zoom screen grab.

A developer looking to build a subdivision near Ali‘i Drive will have to meet with the Cultural Resource Commission to ensure there aren’t any concerns from that body pertaining to plans for the subdivision near Kahalu‘u before the project can move forward.

The Leeward Planning Commission deferred action on Thursday regarding Hawai‘i One Investors LLC’s request for a five-year extension to their special management area ordinance as well as a request to rezone 11 acres of land to accommodate the project that has been in the planning process for years.

The property is located at the south end of Naniloa Street, adjacent to the White Sands Beach Estates and Keauhou View Estates subdivisions. It calls for a 62-lot subdivision connected to sewer with an ingress road connecting to Ali‘i Drive as well as a 3-acre public park near La‘aloa.

California-based Hawai‘i One Investors acquired the land in 2013, four years after the SMA was originally approved. While the developer met various contingencies tied to the SMA, including a variety of county permits, it expired in 2019 before development could take place.

That prompted Hawai‘i One to seek an extension.

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Essentially, the developer said, they just ran out of time. They still want to make the project go, adhering to standards the county already laid out before them that they were fulfilling.

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“We hope we’ve demonstrated the diligence of the applicant,” said Daryn Arai, representing the applicant.

But more work needs to be done, the Leeward Planning Commission told the developer.

The commission voted 6-0 on Thursday, April 21, to have Hawai‘i One first meet with the Cultural Resource Commission to ensure there aren’t any historical, burial or cultural concerns by that body or neighbors. The property is near two burial sites as well as the Keauhou-Kahalu‘u heritage area, so due diligence and precaution would be prudent to demonstrate before an extension can be granted.

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The commission also asked Hawai‘i One to present a history on the company’s completed projects the next time they come back to the commission.

More than a dozen people testified in opposition to the extension or rezoning. The concerns centered on too much congestion in an already congested area of town and cultural, water and environmental impacts, as well as the dangerous precedent it would set renewing a lapsed permit without consequences.

It would be better to have the developer start the application process all over again, some said.

“I think expired means it’s done, just like your driver’s license,” said neighbor Lokelani McMichael.

Nancye Capri called south Ali‘i Drive a traffic nightmare already in its current state. Congestion is so bad down there, locals don’t even bother visiting the area anymore. More building in the area would only burden an already overburdened area, she said.

“You can’t even take a walk,” she said about Kailua-Kona’s most famous street. “Children can’t be down there (and) the infrastructure is poor.”

After the applicant’s SMA expired, lenders pulled their financial support, the development team said. That “took the wind out of their sales,” they added, which is why there was a couple-of-years lapse between the expiration and the extension request.

The project met a number of conditions before the expiration, including archeological and burial council approval, a Planned Unit Development Plan, and it received environmental impact statement results that found no significant impact in areas that were required to have them performed.

Houses would be singe-family units, one to two stories tall. The last market analysis the developers did said the houses would be in the $700,000 range, but that market could have changed with rising real estate prices. A dozen homes would be designated affordable housing.

Their extension and zoning requests also include an amendment to the drainage improvements condition tied to the permit that would allow the developer to exercise the option of bonding the drainage improvements or the use of other acceptable forms of surety in lieu of the construction of drainage improvements, prior to the issuance of the final subdivision approval. The zoning request would be from ag zoning to single-family residential.

The Cultural Resource Commission meets May 11. The developers are expected to go before the Leeward Planning Commission in June.

A video of Thursday’s meeting will be available here.

 

Tom Hasslinger
Tom Hasslinger is a journalist who lives in Kailua-Kona. Prior to joining Big Island Now, he worked as the managing editor for West Hawaii Today and deputy editor for The Garden Island newspaper on Kauai. He's worked for over 15 years as a reporter for the Oahu-based Civil Beat news outlet, as well as in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and Douglas Wyoming.
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