County proposes land use designation change

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In anticipation of future growth in Keaau, Hawaii County planners are proposing to change land use designations for much of the town.

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In anticipation of future growth in Keaau, Hawaii County planners are proposing to change land use designations for much of the town.

The amendment would apply to 587 acres makai of Highway 11 and designate most of Keaau as medium density urban, a classification currently limited to 52 acres of land in the commercial area.

The Windward Planning Commission will consider the proposal — which won’t impact existing residential neighborhoods — at its July 2 meeting in Hilo.

But if adopted, residents might not see major changes to the town anytime soon.

Daryn Arai, county planning program manager, said the amendment would change the county’s general plan but would not impact zoning.

He said the purpose of the change is to help the county plan for future demands on public services.

“It changes the guidance,” Arai said.

The area impacted includes 112 acres of land designated as important agriculture land and 475 acres that is labeled low density urban.

Arai said the proposal is in response to a request from the County Council to amend parts of Keaau’s land use map that are not consistent with the Puna Community Development Plan.

The medium density designation could eventually allow for apartment units and village commercial types of development.

Arai said medium density is more restrictive than the “urban expansion” category that was being considered. He said that would have allowed for industrial development, which residents said they didn’t want in that area.

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The Planning Commission meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the Aupuni Center Conference Room, 101 Pauahi St.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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