Council Finance Committee set to discuss four Kona land buys

  • VILLEGAS

Kona Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas is trying to get the ball rolling on purchases from the $18.4 million sitting in the county’s dedicated open space fund and she sponsored four resolutions to be considered Tuesday by the council Finance Committee.

The county Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Commission, known as PONC, is charged with prioritizing properties for purchase each year using a sweep of 2% of property tax revenues each year. A separate account, the maintenance fund, is paid from an additional one-quarter percent. The earmarks from property tax revenues were approved by a majority of Hawaii County voters as charter amendments.

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“We have an unprecedented opportunity for the county to purchase open space properties on the Kona Coast. We have willing sellers who have patiently navigated the PONC process in order to ensure that these lands end up in the hands of our people where they will be cared for in perpetuity,” Villegas said Friday. “These PONC purchases will provide a much needed network of open spaces amidst areas slated for more urban development.”

Resolutions 80-83 authorize the county administration to begin negotiations on an Alii Drive oceanfront parcel and three mauka parcels in Villegas’ district.

Resolution 80 covers a 15,372-square-foot parcel at 76-6276 Alii Drive that has a market value of $1.2 million. The property is listed as priority nine for purchase in the 2020 Annual Report of the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Commission. The purchase would preserve historic cultural sites, protect open space along Alii Drive and provide access for fishing, gathering and recreation, the resolution states.

Resolution 81 would purchase 8.8 acres mauka of Magic Sands of La‘aloa, valued at $327,700. Listed as priority 15 in the PONC 2020 annual report, its purchase would protect flood plains that threaten public beaches, and preserve and promote Hawaiian culture, tradition and customary practices, the resolution states.

Resolution 82 authorizes the purchase of Pahoehoe of La‘aloa, a 29.8-acre property that’s also mauka of Magic Sands, valued at $2.2 million. Purchase of the property, priority 14 on the PONC 2020 list, will protect sacred burial grounds, natural resources and buffer zones, and preserve and promote Hawaiian culture, tradition and customary practices.

Resolution 83 authorizes the purchase of a condo development known as Coffee Cottages at 76-5945A Mamalahoa Highway in Holualoa. The 2.5-acre parcel with a market value of $1.1 million, is priority 16 for PONC. Purchasing it would mitigate the risks of stormwater flooding damage, recharge area aquifers and preserve and promote Hawaiian culture, tradition and customary practices, the resolution states.

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The Finance Committee is scheduled to meet at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. The public can provide oral testimony via Zoom. To register to testify, email jeanette.aiello@hawaiicounty.gov or call 961-8255 no later than noon today. Written testimony can be sent via email to counciltestimony@hawaiicounty.gov or faxed to 961-8912.

Email Nancy Cook Lauer at ncook-lauer@westhawaiitoday.com.