LAUPAHOEHOE, Hawaii: It was a different sort of Hamakua Community Development Plan Steering Committee meeting held in Laupahoehoe this weekend…
Music, food, and games. A departure from the stuffy roundtable discussions that have been taking place over the last few years on the subject creating a document that will try to direct the region’s growth.
This was the last day in a three day workshop to gather input from the community as the plan moves into its next stage.
The first meeting was held in Honokaa, the second in Papaikou… this event was the wrap up, where consultants revealed some of the things they had learned over the last two days.
It could be a tough task, directing growth for a community that does not want any, as was revealed in this poll. The poll itself was not without controversy. Apparently, the questions had to be altered to reflect the responses of a strong anti-development crowd in Papaikou. On Sunday, steering committee members agreed that the questions could have used their prior input.
Papaikou has been at the vortex of many of the most passionate access and development issues over the last few years. For example, the access to the Papaikou Mill Beach, which crosses private property, has been the subject of unrest. In 2010, the situation prompted a passionate demonstration along Highway 19, right by Baker Tom’s.
Also, in early 2009, the community lined the same highway, protesting the planned Papaikou Point Project, which many feared would forever alter their rural way of life.
Shortly after this demonstration, Steve Shropshire – the owner of Aloha Green nursery and the developer of the project – voluntarily withdrew a State Land Use Commission application to designate his 90 acres of agricultural and conservation land to urban. Shropshire told local media that he wanted to wait for the Hamakua CDP to take shape before moving forward.
Many of those same “A’ole Papaikou Point Project” shirts and signs resurfaced this week, as the community voiced their opinion to the Steering Committee, hoping the CDP thats in the works can help iron out the issue.
Umauma resident Mark Koppel was one of many who came out in force this week, trying to make sure the will of the community is heard in this late stage of public input.
But public access controversies weren’t the only items up for discussion… folks also wanted to express their views on economic development… and agriculture, the lifeblood of the Hamakua Coast.
Those involved with the project said they were happy with the turnout over the last few days.
Now, the steering committee begins what they say is the hard part of the planning process… creating the actual draft of the plan. The public will still have a chance to comment of the draft plan before it is adopted. It will need to get the approval of the Windward Planning Commission and the Hawaii County Council.
Planners say they hope to have the draft ready for review by the end of the summer, and hope they can have the CDP adopted by early next year.
(VIDEO by David Corrigan | VOICE of Stephanie Salazar)