SMA sought for Kahaluu condo project

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KAILUA-KONA — A modified version of a massive condominium plan has resurfaced for 43 acres of culturally significant land above Kahaluu Beach Park.

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KAILUA-KONA — A modified version of a massive condominium plan has resurfaced for 43 acres of culturally significant land above Kahaluu Beach Park.

Should it come to fruition, the timeshares project by Ocean Villas at Kahaluu Bay, LLC would have 306 units in multiple three-story buildings mauka of Alii Drive and Kahaluu Beach Lots. The company is under a purchase agreement to acquire the land from Kamehameha Investment Corp. and is seeking a special management area permit needed for the project to move ahead.

A public hearing on the permit application originally scheduled Thursday before the Leeward Planning Commission will be held at 9:30 a.m. April 21 at the West Hawaii Civic Center.

If the Leeward Planning Commission approves the SMA, work on designs would take another year, said William Moore, the project’s consultant.

“It’ll be two years plus before any construction really gets going,” he said.

The plan was scaled down from 338 units to allow for cemetery buffers following the release of a draft environmental assessment in 2013. In all, there are 58 historical sites on the land, with 17 of them regarded as significant by archaeologists.

These include 59 platforms, 44 mounds, 31 enclosures, 21 terraces and a burial crypt among 247 features. Like plans before it, some residents oppose this one. Simmy McMichael said the project would bring congestion, and questioned the suitability of the condos on historic grounds.

“This land is where Kamehameha I and Kamehameha III lived,” said McMichael, who owns two homes directly makai of the site.

“No respect. The chiefs should be left to rest in peace. What part of historic preservation district don’t they understand? Building concrete condos without full archaeology survey. Documentary research of 1929 to 1930 shows the ahupuaa of Kahaluu probably had the greatest number of archaeology sites to be found anywhere on the island.”

The first phase of the project — with a combined 31 acres dedicated to historic preservation and open space — would yield 100 units built throughout two years, with a $30 million price tag, according to documents on file with the Hawaii County Planning Department. The buildout of the rest of the project would depend on market conditions.

In a letter of protest addressed to the county and Moore, Alice Cannon said that approval should be contingent on the building of a bypass road along the lines of the so-called “Alii Highway” or Kahaluu-Keauhou Parkway. That project, talked about for years, is still a major question mark, however.

“Alii Drive is not a highway,” said Cannon, who lives in Kahaluu Beach Lots adjacent to the proposed project. “And it’s going to really impact that little beach everyone wants to go to.”

Developers say that bypass would indeed become a major access point if it is built. For now, access to the development would be off of Alii Drive about 1,400 feet north of its intersection with Makolea Street.

On the issue of culturally sensitive lands, Moore noted the significant area dedicated to preservation.

A September 2015 environmental assessment found no significant impacts from the project.

“There are burials, and a burial treatment plan has been approved,” he said. The developers pledged to provide access for descendants.

A burial treatment plan for 14 of the 22 sites was approved by the State Historic Preservation Division in 2008.

That division also approved preservation plans for 20 sites in 2010 and a data recovery plan for 25 sites in 2012.

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Those plans have not yet been fully implemented.

Email Bret Yager at byager@westhawaiitoday.com.