Road concerns raised over Hualalai development


Stephens Media Hawaii

A proposed 43-lot Kona subdivision got bogged down Tuesday in the County Council Planning Committee after a disagreement between the developers and the Department of Public Works about how much of Hualalai Road the developer is responsible for.

After 2 1/2 hours of discussion, the Planning Committee agreed to postpone rezoning until Dec. 17 to allow several amendments to clarify how much of the improvements will be credited to fair share requirements and how much of Hualalai Road should be improved and to address density and drainage issues.

Public Works Director Warren Lee said Hualalai Road is considered a substandard road, but it’s not on a list for comprehensive improvements by the county. He said developers will improve the road fronting their property as their rezonings are approved.

Hualalai Partners LLC has to improve the road in front of its development, up to its $241,000 fair share commitment. The Leeward Planning Commission added another requirement the developer contribute one-sixth of the cost to improve about 600 feet of Hualalai Road fronting a water tank lot, up to about $83,000. Four other developers will also be expected to pay, with the county chipping in the final one-sixth.

“Having $83,000 deposited would certainly help toward that portion of the road impact,” Lee said.

But the disagreement stems from a misunderstanding about whether the developer must construct the entire width of the road or just the half fronting its property.

“We are not willing to do extra to benefit the county,” said Steve Lim, representing the developer. “The county’s not building roads in Kona.”

Committee members were worried the required fair share money would be spent without a road actually being completed.

“How do we make sure the safety improvements on Hualalai road are meaningful?” asked North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff.

Lim, after consulting with Lee, later told the committee he will have to trust Public Works to be reasonable about its requirements.

“We have to build the roadway improvements that we have to do,” Lim said, adding the improvements benefit the development as well as the county. “We have a vested interest in doing what’s fair and improve Hualalai, too.”

Seven members of the public, mostly from neighboring Kona Orchid subdivision, spoke out against the development, citing the hazardous condition of the road and their concern about increased density. Mark Van Pernis said Hualalai Partners and the owners of five other lots, which were subdivided from a 96-acre parcel in 2004, were exploiting land use law by creating parcels of less than 15 acres. Larger parcels must go before the state Land Use Commission and not just the county planning commissioners.

“It’s part of a scam to get out of state land use laws and avoid environmental statements,” said Van Pernis.

Hualalai Partners’ proposal to amend the land use boundary for its 14.968-acre parcel from agricultural to urban and rezone the property from agricultural five-acres to single-family residential-15,000 square feet got a favorable nod from the Leeward Planning Commission in September.

The commission ultimately adopted several conditions, including one tying Hualalai Partners’ final subdivision approval to the construction of or bonding of a road connecting Paulehia Street, within Pualani Estates, to Hualalai Road. That connection will be built within the development makai of Hualalai Partners’ land, in the HuKoPa subdivision, which is owned by relatives of Hualalai Partners’ owners.

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