Redemption center riles neighbors

A plan to open a recycling redemption center in the Seaview Center subdivision has some neighbors concerned.

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A plan to open a recycling redemption center in the Seaview Center subdivision has some neighbors concerned.

Rose Mesick has lived in the Kona Sunset Villas condos since the early 1980s. She’s watched other proposed projects come and go for the empty lot adjacent to the condo complex. The lot is clearly visible from her lanai, and when she first noticed someone cutting trees and removing junk from it, she thought Hawaii County officials were responding to her complaints about the mess there.

Instead, she later learned, Business Services Hawaii had gotten a special management area minor permit to grub the lot in preparation for development. The plan, according to documents filed with the Planning Department, is to open a redemption center for beverage containers.

Mesick was particularly unhappy when she tried to find out why she and other condo owners weren’t notified about the SMA permit being granted. She said county officials told her because the land already has commercial zoning, neighbors didn’t have to be notified.

“We just want to have a chance to have our voices heard,” Mesick said Thursday. “It’s not fair to not give us a chance to say our piece.”

Deputy Planning Director Bobby Command said it wasn’t too late for Mesick and her neighbors to speak up.

“They don’t have the SMA permit to do what they want,” Command said, referring to the redemption center. “We have lots and lots of concerns, especially the access.”

The SMA application for the grubbing work mentioned bringing three roll-off containers on to the lot. Public Works officials expressed a desire to see a 75-foot driveway, which would be difficult to construct on the half-acre lot. Command encouraged people with concerns to make those known to the county.

Shon Pahio, who is listed on the original SMA application as the contact for Business Services Hawaii, said the plan for the redemption center isn’t yet set in stone. But, he said, the land is properly zoned for business.

“We’re trying to work with them to see what we can do,” Pahio said, referring to the landowners, from whom Business Services Hawaii leased the lot. “The thing is zone commercial. The people who own it have a right to do something with it.”

As to whether a redemption center creates an eyesore, as Mesick contends, Pahio said no.

“If you look at the property, the way it is now from a month ago, it was overgrown trees and bushes,” he said, adding his employees have removed junk vehicles as well.

Access to the project has to be through the subdivision road, because of limitations on access to Kuakini Highway put in place when the subdivision was first built, Pahio said. And while neighbors may be concerned about the number of vehicles coming in and out, Pahio said he estimates only 30 to 40 customers a day would come through to the redemption site.

“It’s not a whole lot of traffic,” he said.

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His company’s goal, he said, is to give West Hawaii residents another option for turning in recyclable materials with deposits and add a few jobs, jobs Business Services Hawaii had in West Hawaii until losing the county contract to run the redemption centers at two Kona transfer stations.

The Planning Department took Business Services Hawaii to task late last month for grubbing more than half of the lot, as was allowed with the SMA permit, and for not having a fine mesh construction barrier surrounding the work site, according to a Sept. 30 letter. As of last week, a construction barrier was in place.

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