(BIVN) – A draft environmental assessment has been published for the 35.77-acre Kukuiola and the Village 9 Affordable Rental Community, planned for an undeveloped area within the master-planned Villages of La‘i ‘Ōpua in Kealakehe.
The proposed project, located at the corner of Kealakehe Parkway and Ane Keohokālole Highway, consists of two subprojects: the County of Hawai‘i Kukuiola homeless emergency shelters and permanent supportive housing component, and a HHFDC (Hawai‘i Housing and Finance Development Corporation) affordable rental housing component.
Kukuiola will “provide a space for a multi-organization/multi-agency approach to help reduce the number of homeless individuals and couples without children in the Kealakehe and greater North Kona region,” the EA says, while also providing social services and programs “to help transition emergency shelter individuals to permanent supportive housing and/or affordable housing programs to meet State and County homeless housing goals.”
The 19.1 acre Kukuiola project includes the following components:
- Access. Permanent access consists of a cul-de-sac from Kealakehe Parkway that would be dedicated to the County and designed to County standards to serve both Kukuiola and the HHFDC affordable rental projects. Until the permanent access is constructed, temporary access for the initial phase of Kukuiola is a planned driveway from the existing sewer easement road.
- Emergency shelter for homeless individuals. A first phase of approximately 20-30 housing units would be constructed in the first phase, with an associated temporary intake facility. Future phases will allow for up to additional 60-90 emergency housing units (grouped in 3-4 clusters).
- A dog park.
- Designated safe (overnight) parking areas.
- Permanent structures for a larger assessment center.
- A community pavilion with kitchen.
- Health and social service spaces, a career center and library.
- A potential mini mart or convenience store.
- The southern portion of the site below the emergency housing component features approximately 12.7 acres of developable area and will be allocated towards permanent supportive housing at an approximate density of 20 units per acre.
HHFDC Affordable Rentals
The other component of the overall project, the HHFDC Rentals, will “increase the available affordable housing inventory in West Hawai‘i”, which is in large demand. It also aims to “create a community that helps grow the Honokōhau Village Transit Oriented Development district in harmony with the West Hawai‘i Civic Center, the adjacent Kukuiola housing community, and the future Kealakehe Regional Park.”
The 13.2-acre HHFDC component will include:
- a maximum density of approximately 20 units per acre;
- building heights up to three stories;
- orientation of buildings to capture predominant wind patterns and views;
- adequate off-street parking;
- open spaces and buffers from surrounding uses; and
- various possible community amenities including playground areas and potential commercial retail uses on site.
“The Site is State-owned ceded land that the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) transferred to HHFDC via Executive Order No. 4575,” the draft EA states. “Through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the County of Hawai‘i (“County”), HHFDC has agreed to lease approximately up to 20 acres of the Site to the County for 65 years upon completion of a master plan, environmental assessment, and subdivision. The Site is also known as Village 9 of the Villages of La‘i‘Ōpua, a master planned community of which the other “villages” have been conveyed to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL).”
Overlapping the project site are critical habitat areas designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). “The USFWS has entered into MOUs with the HHFDC and the County that sets forth the stewardship and protection requirements for the portions of critical habitats on their respective properties,” the draft EA says. The document includes the following:
- The Preserves will have a fence and a 20-foot wide fire break at its boundary with the Village 9 Affordable Rental project, but USFWS has no objections to a redundant 6-foot high chain link fence along the boundary between the Preserve and the Village 9 Affordable Rental project to prevent access and trespass to the Preserve;
- Since the area is highly prone to fires, USFWS would want an access gate for fire response vehicles that could be located near the middle of the south boundary of the Village 9 Affordable Rental project between Ane Keohokālole Highway and the proposed cul de sac. This will allow quicker access to the Preserve if USFWS needs to respond to a fire; and
- USFWS would want a vehicular access to the makai Preserve from the proposed cul de sac, perhaps at the boundary between the Village 9 Affordable Rental project and the Kukuiola Permanent Supportive Housing project.
The draft EA, compiled by PBR HAWAII & associates, says that the emergency housing component Phase 1 will begin construction as early as the fall of 2019, while the Permanent Supportive Housing component would begin construction at 2020 at the earliest. The HHFDC affordable housing component estimated to commence in 2025 depending on the availability of infrastructure in the area, the document says.
A 30-day public review and comment period has started. Comments are due by September 9, 2019 and can be sent to this web address.