Friday, November 27, 2015         

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Community plan awash in controversy

By Dan Nakaso


The deep division in Laie over plans to rezone agricultural land around Brigham Young University-Hawaii -- allowing shops, churches and "affordable" homes -- spilled out last night when hundreds of people packed Kahuku High and Intermediate Schools' cafeteria wearing powder blue T-shirts in support of development and green T-shirts urging "Keep the Country Country."

Organizers of last night's public review draft of the city's revised Koolauloa Sustainable Communities Plan had speakers in support and opposition of the plan line up on opposite sides of the cafeteria, waiting for their two minutes to speak.

Both lines stretched from the front of the cafeteria to the back.

"It is time for us to decide our destiny and not let others decide for us," said Pane Meatoga, president of the Laie Community Association.

There were occasional boos and plenty of applause as supporters said BYUH's Envision Laie Development would bring badly needed affordable housing that they say will help keep young North Shore residents home, while helping to attract potential new industries that could create jobs outside the university and its Polynesian Cultural Center.


The draft plan is available at Additional comments can be sent by Jan. 15 to Helber Hastert & Fee Planners at

Opponents said development will change the character around Laie from rural to urban and further clog busy Kamehameha Highway -- the only way into and out of the area.

They also questioned whether there is enough fresh water and sewer capacity to handle any more development.

The plan for Koolauloa covers an area that stretches from Koolaupoko to Kawela but city officials said the Envision Laie Development component has divided the community.

It would also allow BYUH to grow to 5,000 students from 2,400.

The area is designated for agriculture and the land would have to be rezoned to allow residential, commercial and industrial mixed use.

In 2009, Heart + Mind Strategies, in conjunction with Hawaii-based OmniTrak Group Inc., surveyed Koolauloa residents and found that:

» More than 1 in 10 had family members who moved away because they could not find a job or an affordable place to live in Koolauloa.

» Fifty-two percent believed that future growth in the region will make things better, compared with 41 percent who said growth would make things worse.

City officials say the draft revised plan addresses the need for jobs and affordable housing and recognizes Turtle Bay Resort's existing land use entitlements. They will take last night's comments and submit an updated version of the draft plan for more public hearings before the Planning Commission.

The plan then would go before the City Council.

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