Long-delayed development back before Leeward Planning Commission

  • Locator map for proposed housing development in

The Planning Department is recommending the county approve a five-year extension for a rezoning and special management area permit for a 65-lot single-family home development on 11 acres in Kapalaalaea, North Kona, that expired in February 2019.

Hawaii One1 Investors LLC, formerly Kona Heights LLC, will appear July 21 before the Leeward Planning Commission with its request. Developers are also seeking a change to the permit’s drainage requirement to allow the drainage improvements to be secured by a bond or other surety rather than be constructed prior to final subdivision approval.


Since acquiring the project in 2013, the new developers had fulfilled a number of requirements for development approval, including securing a planned unit development permit in 2016, finalizing and securing approval from the State Historic Preservation Division for an archaeological data recovery plan and burial treatment plan in 2017, securing tentative approval for phase one of the subdivision in 2017, working with the Department of Parks and Recreation to locate a suitable site for a three-acre neighborhood park, completing an environmental Assessment and receiving a finding of no significant Impact for the park’s development, the Planning Department said in its report.

“Despite this work, the applicant lost its funding to complete the required infrastructure improvements for the project and could not find an alternative source within a timely manner,” the recommendation stated.

Developers planned to have the first 19 homes completed next year, with another 19 in 2024 and the final 24 in 2025.

Not everyone is happy with the plan, and about a dozen people testified at an April meeting of the commission.

“I bristle with the fact that something that originally got approved in 2009 is now being reconsidered again for an extension. It seems to me that there should be a life term to planning approvals and not this sort of permanent perpetual approval for projects,” said Kailua-Kona resident Elizabeth Dunn.

Simmy McMichael listed 10 issues and questions she had about he project, from the protection of the Hawaiian hoary bat to traffic impacts. She noted that the traffic study was conducted in October, 2021, the “deadest” month of the year in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a dead subject. Final. Feb.19, 2019 long gone!! Asking for five years now? Original approval Feb. 9, 2009,” McMichael said in testimony. “Where is a new environmental assessment?”

In a July 4 email, she urged others to testify in opposition on July 21. She also noted her concerns that developing the area will desecrate or destroy the Great Wall of Kuakini, a stone barricade over five miles long that traces its origins back to Kona’s early years.

The Planning Department, however, sees the project as an appropriate use in the region.

“The proposed development can be considered ‘infill’ development as defined in the (Kona Community Development Plan) as it is situated directly to the south of established residential subdivisions of White Sands Beach Estates and Keauhou View Estates subdivisions to the north, and existing single and multiple family residential zoning to the south as part of resort community of Keauhou,” the recommendation stated. “Furthermore, the applicant proposes to construct and dedicate to the county a new subdivision access road (Pi ‘ilani Street) from Ali ‘i Drive through the adjacent property to the west (makai) of the subject property, which will connect to Naniloa Street stub out at Queen Kalama Avenue., which is an existing, county-owned and maintained road.”

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