Back to the drawing board for Holualoa couple

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A couple’s plans to subdivide their Holualoa property so their daughter can build a house there has met with so much opposition that they’ve asked that it be pulled from today’s County Council agenda.

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A couple’s plans to subdivide their Holualoa property so their daughter can build a house there has met with so much opposition that they’ve asked that it be pulled from today’s County Council agenda.

Charles and Janet Lipps, who bought their 3-acre parcel at the corner of Hiona Street and Ohana Road nine years ago, previously received a favorable recommendation from the Leeward Planning Commission, although the Planning Department raised objections.

“I’m just afraid if it appears before the council tomorrow, it will just get shot down,” Charles Lipps said Tuesday.

The County Council Planning Committee earlier this month voted 6-2 against the plan, saying the property is located in Kona’s prime coffee belt and the property should be reserved for agriculture. In addition, council members said, allowing the rezoning in an area surrounded by 3- and 5-acre lots will set a precedent and create a denser development outside Kona’s urban core than envisioned by the county General Plan and Community Development District.

That opinion was echoed by the county Planning Department in its report.

“While we understand the desire of the applicant to provide a lot for his daughter to build a residence, the Planning Department has an obligation to consider the appropriate land use patterning in the area,” the report said. “This could set a precedent should other property owners desire similar changes in zone.”

Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille and Hilo Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi were the only council members voting yes. Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung was absent for the vote.

“When parents purchase properties for the long term, for helping out their own children … I think that’s great planning for them,” Onishi said. “You have an investment.”

Wille said there should be some “ohana” provision in county code to allow the subdividing, provided the parents agree to keep it in the family for a certain number of years.

The Lipps seemed open to that idea.

“We love Holualoa and this is our home,” Charles Lipps said. “We want our children and our grandchildren to live here.”

Even council members who opposed the rezoning were sympathetic.

“It’s extremely difficult to live in Kona, as many of us know,” said Council Chairman Dru Kanuha, who represents central Kona. “There’s not that many developments, there’s not that many houses. It’s extremely expensive.”

North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff, however, said the family could build a second structure on the property under the current zoning. The Lipps said the daughter is unable to get financing without a parcel in her own name.

“I’ve spoken to several people that live up there, many of whom are not favorable toward the rezoning because they don’t want to see the property up there turned into deeper density” Eoff said.

“This is a step in the wrong direction.”

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Hamakua Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter said she had to vote against the rezoning because of the precedent it could set for her own agricultural district.

“It affects the entire island,” Poindexter said.

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