Mauna Lani shopping plaza advances

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HILO — After informally agreeing to lift some road requirements and have the developer meet with local union representatives, the County Council Planning Committee gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a planned shopping plaza at Mauna Lani resorts.

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HILO — After informally agreeing to lift some road requirements and have the developer meet with local union representatives, the County Council Planning Committee gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a planned shopping plaza at Mauna Lani resorts.

The rezoning, from agriculture to mixed commercial/industrial, is contained in Bill 22, which faces two more hearings at the council level before going to Mayor Harry Kim for signature.

The applicant, Salem, Oregon-based RB2 Investors LLC, wants to modify the unused 6,667-square-foot Seagull school building to create a 20-unit lease space for business, offices, self-storage and a cafe. An additional 1,000-square-foot building will be used as a self-storage facility, and a third, 8,220-square-foot building would accommodate up to 10 additional lease spaces in a second phase.

“We hope to get started in the summer,” developer’s representative Roger Harris told the committee.

Harris asked for more leeway on the road construction than is spelled out in the bill. He said the road frontage should stay the same as the rest of the resort, with 6 1/2 foot shoulders, rather than the more stringent requirements of paved shoulders, swale improvements, drainage and utility relocation if necessary.

Council members and the Planning Department were amenable, and Kohala Councilman Tim Richards agreed to incorporate those terms into an amendment to the bill.

“I think this is a good project,” Richards said. “Economic development, repurposing buildings, it hits all the right markers.”

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After hearing testimony from Max Newberg, Kona field representative for the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters, Harris said he would get the developer to meet with the union to talk about wages. Newberg, whose union represents 600 working families on the island, said he’d like to see standard wages paid to workers.

“The proceeds from the project should be reinvested in the community,” Newberg said.

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