LAIE (HawaiiNewsNow) - A close-knit community is divided over a major redevelopment plan. The city is considering a proposal to build a new hotel in Laie, but some residents are fighting back against the project. Dozens of people showed up for a public hearing on the application for a special management area use permit.
The 48-room Laie Inn was demolished last year. Hawaii Reserves, Inc. owns the property which is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now the company wants to help develop a 220-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel.
"We estimate about 150 construction-related jobs during the construction part, and then operations, probably about 100 jobs total," said president and CEO of Hawaii Reserves, Inc. R. Eric Beaver.
"It probably will create jobs, however most of the jobs created will be for students. It will not be for the local children or local kids who choose not to attend BYU," said Kent Fonoimoana of Defend Oahu Coalition.
The roughly 10-acre parcel is next to the Polynesian Cultural Center along Kamehameha Highway. The hotel is designed to attract visitors who would normally stay in Waikiki or at Turtle Bay Resort. The new development would also include restaurants and retail space.
"It is controversial, but all growth and improvement sometimes is painful in the beginning," said Laie resident Charity Fonoimoana.
"The real impacts are hidden as is often the case with large-scale development," said Tim Vanderveer of Defend Oahu Coalition.
Supporters said the project would revitalize the community, but critics worried about the consequences.
"The impact on traffic, infrastructure, sewage, where are all these people gonna go? How many more cars are gonna be on the road? Are these going to be good jobs for locals?" questioned Vanderveer.
"I think it's a really good idea because sustainability requires growth, and in that growth has to come businesses. We can't have improved employment without places for people to work," said Charity Fonoimoana.
The city's director of planning and permitting will make his recommendation by March 17. The issue then goes to the Honolulu City Council.