A planned unit development within the Aina Lea project doesn’t conform to the South Kohala Community Development Plan, some area residents say.
The PUD for Hoolei, a portion of the larger Aina Lea project, mauka of the Mauna Lani resort, allows for road width variances for smaller roads, as well as smaller lot sizes than the original 14,500-square-foot lots the current zoning requires. Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd approved the application in late June. A copy of it recently went to the South Kohala CDP Action Committee, said Mike Price, a Waikoloa resident and chairman of the South Kohala Traffic Safety Committee.
One of the CDP’s general policies is a requirement that projects build safe roads, Price said.
“I don’t think they’re building safe roads,” he said, adding the project has single-lane roads without pedestrian walkways. “Even the state is pretty explicit, you’ve got to provide pedestrian ways away from car lanes to avoid conflict.”
Leithead Todd said the impact of the variances will be fairly small — 23 of the development’s 1,000 acres.
“The variances are just for a 23-acre parcel out of 1,000 acres,” she said. “You want to avoid sprawl.”
She said the Mauna Lani Resort Association did file litigation within the 30-day time period following the PUD’s approval, questioning the legality of granting the PUD when there is ongoing litigation regarding the Villages of Aina Lea’s environmental impact statement.
Several companies have attempted to develop projects at the Aina Lea site. The most recent, DW Aina Lea, ran afoul of the Land Use Commission, which in 2011 voted to revert the property’s land classification from urban to agricultural. A 3rd Circuit Court judge overturned that vote. The state is appealing the court ruling.
The lot size variance, allowing lots as small as 6,000 square feet, according to the PUD, will be an issue for Waikoloa residents, Price said. Within Waikoloa Village, lots must be at least 10,000 square feet, he said. That will leave residents worrying about the impact smaller lots nearby might have on property values.
Waikoloa resident Anika Glass said the lack of connectivity remained a concern. The development is supposed to build a connector road between Queen Kaahumanu Highway and Waikoloa. The PUD area will be built on a road connecting to that larger road, and it will be, in effect, a large cul-de-sac, Glass said.
“In the event of a fire, they have only one way in and one way out,” she said, noting the road will also be narrower than the county’s usual width requirements, which could also cause problems.
Glass also questioned the wisdom of granting the application and moving forward on construction while several court cases are still pending.
The PUD, which will allow about 70 lots for single-family homes, seems to be a way to finance construction of the affordable housing requirement, Glass said.
DW Aina Lea CEO and Managing Partner Robert Wessels said the PUD won’t have any impact on construction of affordable town houses.
“It supplements some of the off-site utilities and helps reduce the cost of the town homes,” Wessels said.
West Hawaii Today’s call Tuesday was the first he had heard of any concerns about CDP compliance, he said.