(BIVN) – Neighbors opposed to a planned 450 unit development in Kailua-Kona are reaching out to a Hawaiʻi County commission in the hopes of keeping it in open space.
Earlier this year, the West Hawaii Today reported that the 70-acre Kona Village development mauka of Kuakini Highway was getting the needed approvals to begin construction.
Residents of the nearby Pualani Estates neighborhood, however, would like to see the land kept as open space. A request to acquire the land was made to the Hawaiʻi County Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Commission. The commission’s duty is to prioritize privately held lands and submit a list to the County administration as recommendations for purchase using the 2% land fund.
A number of people testified in favor of preserving the land as open space, according to the minutes of the March PONC meeting held in Kona:
Barry Stone, a public safety officer, testifies in support of Comm. 19-024. He gives a brief testimony of the current traffic conditions in the area and how the development project would cause safety concerns. He is in support of PONC acquisition of these parcels in open space which would create a buffer zone.
Clifton Walters, Pualani Estates resident, testifies in support of Comm. 19-024. He lives in the subdivision below and is very concern of the flooding and drainage issue if the property is developed and the magnitude of the “gushing stream” flowing past his property down towards the ocean. He says leaving it in open space would be a good thing. Let’s not develop it.
Joel Gimpel, President of Pualani Estates Association and retired lawyer testifies in support of Comm. 19-024. He gives a brief statement regarding the present concerns addressed by the Planning Department to the developers and appraisal value of the land in its present state. He is in support of the open space acquisition as it would help with traffic and safety concerns.
Mark Powell, submitter and nearby resident, testifies in support of Comm. 19-024. He summarizes highlights of the archeological survey of May 2018: old farming villages built in like “terrace-like” set up; burial sites in the old lava tubes (located in the north part of the property); two watersheds; and endangered species: the Hooray Bats, the Pueo (Hawaiian Owl), the ‘io (Hawaiian Hawk], and the Giant Moths. Major concerns are that there are multiple active nesting areas for the bats. He is in support of preserving this land, especially the upper northern parcel (17).
Renee Inaba, member of Pualani Estates, testifies in support of Comm. 19-024, expresses her condolences and sympathy to the Nazara Family, and reports that the owners of this property paid $600,000. She summarizes the developed surrounding neighborhoods with its peoples and the significance of maintaining the natural flow of the water draining from Mauka to Makai. She testifies of the cultural and historical significance of burial sites. There are endangered species that will be forced to relocate: the Hooray Bats, the Owls, the Hawaiian Hawk. She tells the story of the Waikoloa Sandalwood Forest and how greed caused its extinction.
Marta Barreras, Consultant in Design and Development for high-end projects, testifies in support of Comm. 19-024. She professionally witnesses how nature can wreak havoc on over-developed land. She strongly testifies that leaving these parcels in “Open Space” will allow the natural flow of the water as it was intended, and to preserve what is left of our culture. She pleads with the commission to allow the space between Kona Vista’s and Pualani Estates in open space to allow the land to breathe. She would like to see stewardship efforts to bring back the ingenious plants and make it a model for all to come to enjoy.
A site visit was conducted in April and the report was discussed during a PONC meeting held in Hilo in May. The report stated:
The subject property is not for sale. Without a willing seller, there was no access for Commissioners to view archaeological sites, drainageways, and other features of the site. Commissioner Susan Wells Fischer viewed the subject property from the surrounding subdivisions located mauka of Mamalahoa Highway on April 16, 2019.
The layout of the surrounding subdivisions indicates the area was designed for interconnectivity, likely in part to avoid additional traffic light intersections on Mamalahoa Highway. Numerous sideroad dead ends at the boundaries of adjoining subdivisions would likely have been shorter sideroads ending in cul-de-sacs with more houses if connectivity had not been planned.
The Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Commission is currently reviewing multiple suggestions for acquisition, submitted by the public.