The Hawaii County Council unanimously voted in favor of a resolution putting Ooma atop the list of open space to be purchased next.
The North Kona land — nestled between the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority and Kaloko-Honokohau National Park — is one of the last undeveloped segments of the coastline near Kailua-Kona. The Land Use Commission in 2010 rejected a request to reclassify the land from conservation to urban. The council earlier this month adopted a resolution asking the mayor to authorize the finance director to begin negotiations for the land.
“Ooma has been in front of the community, the council, the state LUC three times now,” South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford said during the County Council meeting Wednesday at the West Hawaii Civic Center. “It keeps failing. It fails for good reason. The community wants the shoreward part of this parcel for community use.”
North Kona Councilman Angel Pilago introduced the measure. He said he would prefer to see the entire area that is currently for sale, which includes a mauka portion that is already urban land and the makai conservation part, be purchased.
“The impetus is for the shoreward parcel,” Pilago added. “It’s a good thing that every once in a while we come across an item that everybody agrees to.”
Council members held off on a final vote on a bill that would expand allowable agricultural tourism activities. Ford introduced a request, which the council approved, for a public hearing on Bill 266. The hearing will take place within the next 30 days, Council Chairman Dominic Yagong said, but the exact date had not been determined Wednesday.
Several testifiers asked for the hearing, noting farmers typically could not attend council meetings during the daytime. The council agreed to hold the public hearing in the evening.
The council shot down a rezoning request that would have taken land in Waiakea from 3-acre family agricultural zoning down to 1-acre zoning. Several people testifying in Hilo opposed the project.
“We have got to look at why we take ag land and subdivide and subdivide until it’s not productive as ag land,” Ford said. “Are we really going to be the breadbasket of this state? Are we going to roll over and let the development take over? I agree this is not an appropriate use of this land.”
Another zoning decision, this one to change a Mountain View lot from single-family residential to village commercial, to allow an automobile repair shop, passed the first reading with five positive votes and four negative ones, after several people testified about existing traffic problems near the site. The location is near the Mountain View Post Office.
“The No. 1 reason I’m against this is public health and safety,” Ka‘u Councilwoman Brittany Smart said. “The post office is in a bad location. We have a school across the street. We have the gymnasium and we have the water spigots. This is not a safe intersection.”
Hilo Councilman Donald Ikeda argued that the shop, a “one-man” operation, won’t create a significant amount of traffic.
“I don’t think two or three cars is going to make a difference,” he said.
Ikeda, Yagong, Puna Councilman Fred Blas and Hilo councilmen Dennis Onishi and J Yoshimoto voted in favor of the rezoning.