Residents oppose Hualalai Road rock-crushing operation

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KAILUA-KONA — A plan for a commercial gravel crushing operation off of Hualalai Road is drawing fire from neighbors.

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KAILUA-KONA — A plan for a commercial gravel crushing operation off of Hualalai Road is drawing fire from neighbors.

The application for a special permit for a baseyard and equipment staging area, commercial crushing and stockpiling of material and a security dwelling on 9 acres has the planning director’s backing — with conditions and a five-year time limit.

But a group of residents from four subdivisions has filed a petition for a contested case hearing as the Leeward Planning Commission prepares to hear the permit request Thursday.

“It’s going to affect property values; there’s going to be noise,” said Jeff Citron, who filed the petition on behalf of a group called The Community Associations of Hualalai, representing residents of Heights at Hualalai, Pualani Estates, Hualalai Colony and Kona Orchards.

“You got the sound of rock being dumped,” Citron said. “You have dust.”

Residents say the operation — designed to create 10 to 20 truckloads of commercial aggregate a day — will diminish property values, posing a nuisance and eyesore to people living in the area, and that the use isn’t consistent with the objectives of the Kona Community Development Plan.

Joel Cooperson said residents in the past have already heard trucks backing up and the rattle of crushing equipment at the site.

“It’s a slap in the face to the community,” he said.

However, the operation would be surrounded by other vacant land, with the closest home 600 feet away, according to a report from Planning Director Duane Kanuha.

The requested use of the agriculturally zoned land is reasonable, given its poor soil and the fact that much of the property is in a flood zone where Bolton is proposing to do flood channelization work, Kanuha wrote. The nearest residence is 600 feet away and the two closest subdivisions, Pulanai Estates to the south and Hualalai Colony to the east, are buffered by agricultural land, Kanuha said.

The permit is being sought to clear up a complaint filed against activity at the property, which has been used for years as a baseyard and storage area for equipment and construction material, according to the county.

On Feb. 19, the Planning Department issued a warning letter to Bolton Inc. based on a complaint that gravel had been crushed at the site in April 2015 and transported in a truck with a Bolton logo to a construction area at Kohanaiki.

Investigating officials found a rock crusher on the property, a pile of rock nearby and an office-type trailer. In addition to construction equipment, investigators found four metal warehouses and a Quonset-type structure for which there was no record of building permits, according to the warning letter.

Bolton does have a current community noise permit allowing hammers, crushers and a generator. The company also has an active grading permit and two stockpile permits issued by Public Works for a flood channelization project, which Bolton is undertaking on the land.

Bolton believed that commercial excavation activities were covered under those permits, according to Planning Department documents.

The company is working to clean up the property, according to the Planning Department. The five-year time limit condition requires Bolton to come back and report to the Planning Commission on the cleanup and progress on the flood channel project. Additional conditions require dust control at the site and operation only during business hours.

A call to Bolton Inc. was responded to by the company’s agent, Christy Logan.

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“We are glad there is a public process we can all go through,” Logan said. “(The special permit) has been applied for and we’ll see how it goes.”

Logan referred further questions to public documents at the planning office.

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