KEALAKEHE, Hawaii – On Tuesday, the Hawaii County Council Committee on Finance spent hours discussing a resolution to accept a public access easement on the shoreline of the planned Kohala Kai development, located just north of Kawaihae.
The public has voiced concerns over the project. Several people testified against the resolution from the Waimea videoconferencing site, and numerous spoke in opposition from the new site in Kohala. The problem is not necessarily with the easement itself, although some in the community say the path is unsafe because it is too narrow and close to the cliff. The real sticking point is a much older pathway located on the property that is said to be the historic Ala Loa trail.
One of the groups opposing the subdivision: the Kailapa Homestead Association, a Hawaiian Homelands development nearby Kohala Kai. The Kaneali’i ohana testified that they were left out of Native Hawaiian consultation.
The National Park Service made its presence known at the meeting, in defense of the ancient path that make up the Ala Kahakai Historical Trail.
The easement was a condition of the county planning department’s approval. County lawyers were concerned that a refusal to pass the resolution – which only concerned the new path and had nothing to do with the trail believed to be the Ala Loa – could create potential legal entanglements for the county.
Upon returning from executive session, the council grilled the developers on their intentions towards the old trail.
The measure was postponed until the next committee meeting.