The county code describes a planned unit development as a way for developers to adapt and diversify a subdivision design.
But former Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann, who introduced a measure requiring the planning commissions and the County Council to sign off on planned unit development applications, said developers have used them to skirt undesirable requirements imposed during rezoning.
Hoffmann said his measure, Bill 291, which the Leeward Planning Commission will consider Thursday morning, was for “the council to have some say and not have the planning director to have carte blanche to change the zoning approval because (the developer) didn’t like what the council did. That can happen.”
Developers may get an unfavorable condition imposed on them, or several years after the rezoning request gets council approval, come back citing difficult economic conditions or some other reason they don’t want to comply with the zoning code and the council’s conditions, Hoffmann said.
The county code lays out PUDs as a way “to encourage comprehensive site planning that adapts the design of development to the land, by allowing diversification in the relationships of various uses, buildings, structures, open spaces and yards, building heights, and lot sizes in planned building groups, while still ensuring that the intent of this chapter is observed.”
PUDs allow for a 2-acre minimum lot size, and developers seeking PUDs often request permission for narrower streets, more lots along cul-de-sacs and other variances from the county code. More importantly to developers now, Hoffmann said, is that the planning director has sole authority to grant or deny applications without formal public review or scrutiny.
The Leeward Planning Commission meets at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the West Hawaii Civic Center’s Building G.