(BIVN) – A crowd showed up to the Leeward Planning Commission meeting in Kealakehe on Thursday to share their opinion on a small resort complex being proposed for the cherished sandy beach of ‘Anaeho’omalu.
The planned the development is about 350 feet south of the Ku’uali’i Fishpond and is within the Waikoloa Beach Resort, where the Lava Lava Beach Club restaurant is doing business.
The applicant, Waikoloa BC LLC, is proposing to subdivide their shoreline property into two lots. One lot would contain the existing Lava Lava Beach Club and related parking, and would be 2.151 acres in size. The other lot – 7.849 acres in size – would be developed into a small resort complex, consisting of 40 rentable transient units (down from 44 previously proposed).
The developers have already scrapped a plan for a large swimming pool, in favor of maintaining an area of open space on the lot.
The project would likely be developed in phases, and could begin in late 2019 with full completion of all phases in about 8 years. The construction cost for the entire project is estimated at $30 million.
The applicant needs to amend the original SMA permit permit in order to separate the Lava Lava Beach Club on the 2.151-acre lot after subdivision. The development also needs a change of zone from V-2a to V-7.5. The planning department explains the change:
The current Resort-Hotel zoning district of V-2a requires 2 acres of land per dwelling unit or rentable unit. Thus the current zoning would allow a maximum density of five (5) dwelling or rentable units. The applicant requests to change the zoning density to 7,500 square feet per dwelling or rentable unit, which would allow up to forty-five (45) dwelling or rentable units on 7.849-acres.
The Planning Director has not made a recommendation on the proposal and is suggesting the commission conduct a site visit before making a decision.
One of the outstanding concerns for planners and residents who use ‘Anaeho’omalu is the parking. The planning department noted that the existing Lava Lava Beach Club does not have adequate on-site parking, and that customers have been using the public beach parking lot. The new parking lot being proposed for the 40-unit development will not be available for Lava Lava Beach Club customers, the planning department said.
There are also concerns about how the development could affect threatened green sea turtles known to bask in the area. A set of recommendations from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service state construction activities should cease within 100 feet of a green sea turtle, until the animal voluntarily leaves. Large gatherings should be avoided and artificial light should be minimized from May to December – turtle nesting season.
Originally, planners were working off the premise that the developers would use a 60-foot setback from the certified shoreline. The department says the parcel has lost 0.475 aces or 20,691 square feet in size due to coastal erosion, as of a shoreline survey certified by the State BLNR on February 18, 2015, and based on State law is now 9.525 acres in size. One planning department slide questioned:
Is the current 10-foot wide public access easement located mauka of the certified shoreline adequate or should the public be able to enjoy the entire sandy beach area, similar to the sandy beaches to the north within Waikoloa Beach Resort?
The developers will abide by the shoreline easement wherever it is, since “it changes during the course of the day,” said Sidney Fuke, the planning consultant on the project. “The objective is to allow unfettered lateral access.”
The property contains several cultural and archaeological sites, some of which require preservation, county planners say. Already, the an 85-foot portion of a historic trail was desecrated sometime between late 2015 and November 29, 2017. “The applicant did not authorize anyone to enter, take or destroy this area,” the planning department wrote. “This trail (Segment 1 a of SHPD Site 14196) was supposed to be preserved by a 15-foot buffer around the trail according to the SHPD-approved Preservation Plan dated July 2017. The applicant intends to remediate the damage to the trail.”
After an hour and a half of discussion between county planners and the developers, the public testimony began. 27 people signed up to testify; a mix of construction unions in favor of the project for the jobs it will create, and residents who want to see the project developed responsibly. Others with deep ties to ‘Anaeho’omalu stood against further development of the area. We recorded the first several speakers, which included a representative of the National Park Service, concerned about the historic trails in the area.