(BIVN) – A plan is in the works to create an ʻulu orchard on private land just north of Hakala Bay.
The proposal went before the Windward Planning Commission in Hilo on October 5th. An application for a Special Management Area Use Permit, submitted by Hana Uʻi LLC, is seeking “to construct a primary farm dwelling, an additional farm dwelling, conduct agricultural uses (Ulu Orchard), and related development on 7.35 acres of land situated in the Special Management Area.”
ʻUlu, also known as breadfruit, is grown on a long-lived, perennial tree and is a staple in the Pacific Islands. It is often cited as an important crop for Hawaiʻi agriculture.
The property is located along the makai side of Hawaiʻi Belt Road along a private access easement. The ʻulu orchard is expected to be 3.25-acres in size. The land includes the pali that leads down into Hakalau Bay. Officials noted that the topography of the area will present land use challenges, although the agricultural activity will take place away from the steep ocean cliffs.
The Hawaiʻi County Planning Department recommended the permit be approved. But first, commissioners had some questions about erosion of the seaside cliffs, which is known to occur along this coastal area.
“I talked to people at the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands about this, and they didn’t have any good, profound data,” said John Kocol, the man behind Hana Uʻi LLC. “They did direct me towards a US Geological Survey study that was done in conjunction with the University of Hawaiʻi. The catastrophic sloughing would basically equate to about 8 inches a year, and my interpretation of that was: catastrophic was worst case scenario. I know we can’t predict mother nature, but it was the best data I could find. So when I learned that, we moved the house back as far back as we possibly could. And if that data somehow holds to be true, we’ve got about 240 years before the house would be in jeopardy.”
The Windward Planning Commission voted to approve the permit.