Pool proposed within Kona shoreline setback area

A Kona Bay Estates resident is looking to construct a new swimming pool on his property, just makai of a wall determined to be the shoreline.


A Kona Bay Estates resident is looking to construct a new swimming pool on his property, just mauka of a wall determined to be the shoreline.

Jim Robinson, whose property is located several lots north of a popular keiki beach area, is looking to build the 15- by 30-foot saltwater pool, including related improvements, between his home and a wall that forms the makai boundary of his Kona Bay Estates property.

The pool, which would not draw water from the ocean but use dissolved salt, uses a cartridge filter system that does not require backwashing. When the pool needs to be drained, which the assessment said would happen very infrequently, water would be drained into a specified lava sump; no water would be discharged into the ocean or ground.

Improvements would also include a 7.5-foot diameter spa, a tile pool deck and a 4-foot high pool security fence set back 5 feet from the existing rock wall, according to the assessments.

The project is estimated to cost $50,000 and would take approximately three months to complete, once all required permits and approvals are obtained, according to the assessment. Hawaii County Planning Department anticipates a finding of no significant impact for the proposed project.

Because the wall that forms his makai boundary was certified as the shoreline in September 1999, construction within 20 feet requires an environmental assessment, as well as a shoreline setback variance, which can only be sought after the environmental assessment is completed. A Special Management Area permit or exemption will also be required.

According to the assessment, 20 swimming pools are similarly positioned on the subdivision’s 32 lots. Those pools, according to the assessment, were constructed before the shoreline was recertified in 1999, moving it 20 feet mauka from when the subdivision was developed in 1984.

“This allowed many neighboring lots to utilize the area behind the wall for structures, including swimming pools,” the assessment reads. “There do not appear to have been any adverse impacts on shoreline processes or ecosystems as a result of these land uses on the mauka side of the subdivision wall, and lateral shoreline access has been carefully maintained along the wall.”

The planning department, in a response to early consultation for the environmental assessment, said, “while it is noted that several residences in the subdivision have swimming pools, improvements on neighboring properties are not a factor for permitting items within the shoreline setback area. Granting of shoreline setback variances are guided by both state law … and county rules.”

This is not the first time a pool is being sought for the property, according to the assessment. Previous owners of the property, about a decade ago, excavated for a pool without obtaining necessary permits for use within the setback area. After being informed by the county of the violations, they, according to the assessment, settled the violation by filling it in with concrete, leaving a grass planter in the shape of a pool.

With the area already disturbed, no significant cultural, historical or archaeological resources are expected to be present or affected by the project.

The state Historic Preservation Division in September visited the property and determined that so long as the project does not extend beyond the already-disturbed area, no historic properties would be affected. However, the division noted if any historic resources are found that work stop and the division be contacted.


The project is not expected to have a negative impact on native flora or fauna in the area, according to the assessment.

The public has until Feb. 8 to submit comments on the draft environmental assessment. The assessment is available at the state Department of Health’s Office of Environmental Quality Control’s website at oeqc.doh.hawaii.gov.

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