Waikoloa development projects move forward


A proposed Waikoloa development had its rezoning approved Wednesday, but not before Hawaii County Council members altered a few project conditions.

Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille introduced several amendments to Hawaiian Riverbend LLC’s proposal for a commercial development on just less than 15 acres along Waikoloa Road and Paniolo Avenue.

“The major concerns were really about traffic and congestion and dealing with that. This was an intersection designed with 5,000 residents coming out and now we’re adding a major development,” Wille said.

Councilwoman Brenda Ford, South Kona and Ka‘u, agreed.

“I’m looking at a community that has been suffering for decades with bad transportation flow through this area,” Ford said. “I don’t care what you put in there, you’re going to impact quite severely traffic coming out of that particular driveway.”

The proposed development would be a shopping complex of about 170,000 square feet, with one of the first tenants likely to be a hardware store, a consultant said. Wille said she heard the phrase “small hardware store” and worried the business would end up being a large store, such as a Home Depot.

Consultant Sidney Fuke, representing the landowner, argued against some of the conditions, particularly ones that would require the developer to construct an interior access road earlier than the Department of Public Works and Planning Department conditions stipulated.

“One of my friends said the most insidious forms of denial is excessive conditions,” said Fuke, a former county planning director.

But he did support some of the other changes, and after more than two hours of deliberation, council members settled on several items, including a condition that tied the issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the development’s second commercial phase to the completion of the disputed access road.

On a nearby development, Waikoloa Mauka’s residential development across Waikoloa Road, council members voted to require the developer to provide the county a 5-acre park site when the developer receives the final subdivision approval for the first project increment.

Fuke also represented that developer, which was seeking a five-year extension to complete the project. Fuke said the council’s amendments “will result in much better projects. It’s for the benefit of the community as well.”

Council members breezed through a slate of resolutions, urging state Legislators to consider making fuel tax money available for private subdivision roads that get heavy public use, not to extend the cap on the counties’ portion of the transient accommodations tax and to approve measures to provide funding for the Keaau-Pahoa Road and the University of Hawaii-Hilo College of Pharmacy building.

Council members unanimously approved Bill 24, which codifies the requirement that any land the county purchases with Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Conservation fund not be sold, mortgaged or transferred.