KAILUA-KONA — The Leeward Planning Commission on Thursday voted to give its OK to proposed amendments to the Kona Community Development Plan, or CDP, sending the amendments on for consideration and approval by the Hawaii County Council.
The vote on the amendment package was near unanimous with the exception of commissioner Mike Vitousek, who urged taking more time on the amendments before moving it along.
“It’s not to slow progress; it’s not to impair the county’s ability to do anything,” Vitousek said after casting his “no” vote on a motion to forward a favorable recommendation on the amendments to the County Council. “It’s just to take a closer look at some things that we think can make a difference in our community.”
Although Vitousek earlier in the meeting offered a motion referring the proposed amendments back to the Kona Community Development Plan action committee for review with some suggested revisions, his fellow commissioners instead said they wanted to move the matter forward.
The effort to amend the CDP follows the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals decision in Missler v. County of Hawaii, which upheld the CDP as law.
Most of the amendments are to the CDP’s chapter that outlines the plan’s goals, objectives, policies and actions. In many instances, words like “shall,” which make policies legally binding, and “will” are changed to “should.” Policies using “should,” according to the CDP, aren’t legally binding “as they recommend desired actions.”
The amendments are the result of a long process involving input from several county agencies as well as some state departments. The Kona Community Development Plan action committee last month voted to accept the amendment package.
Some residents, such as traditional midwife Clare Loprinzi, objected to making so many changes to a plan that community members had spent so long carefully and mindfully assembling.
“This is our kuleana,” said Loprinzi. “And we take it seriously, because we’re not going away, because we care.”
Loprinzi urged commissioners to take a look at “what’s happening here” and consider the impacts to the region’s residents, land and cultural sites.
“This ‘shall’ meant ‘shall,’” she said.
Others spoke in favor of the amendments and urged the commission to support them,
“I think everybody can agree that we want smart planning in our communities where we live,” said Kailua-Kona resident Christy A. Logan. “But I don’t think we intended for it to stop us in our tracks from growing smart.”
Logan said after the meeting that she was happy the amendment package was accepted “and we can move forward.”