Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 |
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The County Council last week rejected its second nominee to the Leeward Planning Commission in six months, saying the candidate, Shane Vincent of Waimea, would bring too much of a developer perspective to the board.
The commission has been a hot-spot for conflict between the council and the administration since Mayor Mitch Roth began his term, with the council ultimately, after months of controversy, agreeing to remove former Commissioner Mark Van Pernis from the board at Roth’s request.
The council rejected another Roth nominee, Dana Asis, on a 4-5 vote, leading to an unsuccessful complaint by Asis before the Board of Ethics, charging the council with rejecting her solely because she was a real estate professional.
Shani Armbruster, a planner with Tinguely Development Inc., squeaked through the council on a 5-4 vote, but resigned shortly after for personal reasons.
Roth subsequently nominated Mahina Paishon-Duarte, an educator, policy maker and consultant, the co-founder and CEO of Waiwai Collective, creatively growing community culture and commerce, and Waiwai Consulting, developing culturally and community responsive management plans for native ecosystems. She easily passed through the council on an 8-0 vote.
“Placements on the Leeward Planning Commission are extremely volatile,” noted Kona Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas, one of the “no” votes in the 2-7 vote that ended up disqualifying Vincent.
Vincent has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Santa Clara University and MBA in finance from Thunderbird School of Global Management. He’s been a licensed general contractor in Hawaii since 2008 and started his own company, Vincent Construction Management, in 2018.
“Your answers kind of left me baffled and astounded,” Villegas added.
A big issue for Villegas and some of the other dissenters was Vincent’s statement that higher-end home sites were better for the island than higher density or transient housing. He said land is a scarce resource and he wants to see it used in a “sustainable way, a thoughtful way.”
“There is a demand for it and I think if it’s done well it sustains all of our intersects creating good jobs, maintaining coastal access, supporting traditional uses and whatnot,” Vincent said. “I think the higher-end resort has probably the least impact to the community.”
Kohala Councilman Tim Richards, who along with Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung voted for Vincent, said it’s important there’s a balance on the Leeward Planning Commission.
“It’s interesting when we talk about this and listening to the comments of Director (Zendo) Kern concerning the makeup of the commission wanting a diverse background so you do get a balanced perspective and I think that is important,” Richards said. “And I think it was highlighted one of the aspects that appears to be wanting on the Leeward Planning Commission now is that development, construction, side which Mr. Vincent can bring that expertise coming forward.”
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