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Koa Ridge project approved by commission on 7-0 vote

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The state Land Use Commission voted 7-0 today to approve construction of Koa Ridge, the estimated $2.2 billion proj­ect calling for 5,000 homes, a hospital and commercial center on 768 acres of farmland between Mililani and Wai­pio.

The vote was a victory for developer Castle & Cooke.

In April three state agencies threw their weight behind the project. The state Department of Agriculture, Office of Planning and Department of Transportation expressed support.

The project was opposed by the Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter, state Sen. Clayton Hee and Mililani/ Wai­pio/Melemanu Neighborhood Board Chairman Richard Poirier.

Koa Ridge is one of two huge housing proj­ects that were pending at the LUC and proposed on actively farmed and highly productive land on Oahu. Ho’o­pili, an 11,750-home proj­ect by developer D.R. Horton’s Schuler Division in Ewa, is the other. No decision has been made yet on Ho’opili.

Many of the issues — loss of prime farmland, impacts on already bad traffic congestion, job creation and housing production — are similar in both cases.

Koa Ridge was previously approved by the LUC, which OK’d the proj­ect in 2010. However, the Sierra Club got that decision overturned in court on grounds that one commissioner was ineligible to vote.

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