(BIVN) – An application for a Use Permit to allow a Kurtistown church to build a 3,040 square-foot community outreach center on land mauka of Highway 11 got the OK from the Windward Planning Commission last week in Hilo.
Commissioners supported the proposal for Kurtistown Assembly of God Church to construct and operate the center, which is to be situated across from the Kuauli Road Junction within the Single-Family Residential 20,000-square feet, or RS-20, zoned district. The applicant estimates the entire project to cost approximately $500,000.
Church pastor Damien Shrinsky talked about the need for such services in the community, where poverty is high. “8 years ago we started a soup kitchen,” Shrinsky said. “It’s grown over the past two years. Over 10,000 meals are being distributed yearly.”
“What we want to do is stuff that we’ve already started in our church, and that is work with people one on one or in small groups to get an education,” Shrinsky said. “We’ve helped people get their GED, applying to college, get grants.”
The Windward Planning Commission heard voices in support. Commissioners also heard from a neighbor who has some concerns.
Sharon Nomura is worried about the element that may be attracted to such a service. She is also concerned about traffic.
Former Planning Commissioner Zendo Kern is helping the church as a consultant, and acknowledged the “riffraff element” is an issue in the area. “The park right down there in Kurtistown has a lot of that as well,” Kern said.
The church had a sympathetic ear from Commissioner Gilbert Aguinaldo, known state-wide for his work helping the residents of Puna during the recent eruption of Kilauea.
“God put us here for one reason,” Aguinaldo said. “We’re all here to serve.”