City Council advances Laie expansion plan
The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday advanced a bill that would give Hawaii Reserves Inc. clearance to build homes in the Laie area despite disagreement between supporters and opponents of the plan.
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The Honolulu City
Council on Wednesday advanced a bill that would give Hawaii Reserves Inc. clearance to build homes in the Laie area despite disagreement between supporters and opponents of the plan.
Bill 1 (2017), an update of the Koolauloa Sustainable Communities Plan designed to guide future growth from Kawela Bay to Kaaawa, was given the second of three approvals by the Council. The bill now goes back to the Planning Committee, likely at the end of the month, for further deliberation.
HRI is the local management arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church is also the parent organization of Brigham Young University-Hawaii and the Polynesian Culture Center, the two most dominant entities of Laie.
The latest Koolauloa draft plan, offered by Council Planning Committee Chairman Ikaika Anderson, allows HRI to put up 400 additional housing units — 200 on the BYU-Hawaii campus and the rest in an area that straddles the Laie-Malaekahana border.
The proposal allows for significantly less houses than previous incarnations.
But the roughly 50 acres of Laie-Malaekahana lands that have been subject to the most heated disputes recently took center stage again during more than an hour of testimony Wednesday. HRI and its supporters describe the area as North Laie but opponents, including the Defend Oahu Coalition and Keep the Country Country, say those lands include the outer edges of Malaekahana.
Council members, including Anderson and Council Chairman Ernie Martin, who represents the North Shore, have promised to leave Malaekahana undeveloped.
Eric Beaver, HRI president, told Council members that some of the North
Laie lands slated for inclusion in what would be a new urban growth boundary does spill into the outer edges of what some may consider Malaekahana. But he insisted that HRI only would develop on the Laie side.
Kathy Sokugawa, director of the Department of Planning and Permitting, said the Koolauloa plan is supposed to be broad, and that HRI would need to get approval from the state Land Use Commission, go through the environmental review process and return to the Council for rezoning if it wanted to develop any of the lands.
“The project, if it is to be developed, has a long way to go,” Sokugawa said. “These are bubble diagram maps. They are not intended to be lot-specific.”
If it’s the Council’s intention to make it clear that development can only occur in a specific area, she said, “I would suggest that that be put in the text of the plan.”
As has been the case each time the Council has taken up the Koolauloa plan, there was impassioned testimony for and against future development.
Kaaawa resident Michael Kirk-Kuwaye said he believes approving the additional houses “may be the first increment of the building of a second city in
The geographical isolation of the district and the two-lane highway that’s the only way in and out of the region already causes major traffic issues, he said.
But Hauula resident
Vanley Auna spoke of the need for more housing in the area, an issue that’s been around since he first moved to the area in 1982.
Of his eight grown children, “four of them have moved away from the island because they’re not going to be able to afford a home,” he said. “The other four, guess where they live? They live with me.”
suggested the Council hold off on a vote until Councilwoman-elect Heidi Tsuneyoshi replaces Martin in January. They argued that Tsuneyoshi said publicly she opposes expanding the urban growth boundary in Laie.