The Hawaii County Council unanimously adopted the Hamakua Community Development Plan on Wednesday, despite some misgivings over a land use designation for Hakalau Point.
The plan designates the land, currently zoned industrial and low-density urban, as open space.
County planning officials say the plan itself won’t change zoning for the property, formerly the site of a sugar mill, but property owner Steve Shropshire has opposed the designation, saying it’s meant to help block his development plans and turn the land into a park.
Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung initially was going to vote against the plan because of that issue but changed his mind after receiving some assurances from planning officials. He said he was concerned the council was creating a problem the courts would have to settle.
“Somewhere down the line this is going to be taken to court, and the court, in my opinion, might say it does constitute a downzoning,” Chung said.
Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy expressed some similar concerns but also voted in favor of the plan.
Shropshire’s proposals have included turning two remaining mill warehouses into a brewery, restaurant and plantation museum. He’s also discussed building other warehouses for commercial kitchens and value-added agricultural products, which he said would help farmers in the area.
Most testifiers at the meeting voiced support for the community development plan, intended to guide development along the Hamakua Coast. CDP committee members have said it’s intended to preserve the area’s rural character and avoid sprawl.
“It’s easier to malama aina than it is to restore its function,” said Ninole resident Bob Nishimoto.
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