HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A decade of debating the Koa Ridge development came down to a last round of testimony before the City Council over whether to re-zone agricultural land.
"There will be a need for 17,000 more homes outside the rail corridor, and Koa Ridge fits a need," said Cindy MacMillan of The Pacific Resource Partnership.
Castle & Cooke plans to build 3,500 residential units, a medical center, shopping outlets and recreation areas on 576 acres between Mililani and Waipio.
"It's about telling Castle & Cooke that their shallow superficial green marketing doesn't mask the fact that they're paving over crucial ag lands in a state that's dangerously reliant on imported foods," Tina Grandinetti said.
Proponents maintain Koa Ridge will create 2,300 jobs.
"This creates the opportunity for new retail, for new hospitals, for new jobs in Central Oahu so that people who live their don't have to come into town every single day," said Tyler Dos Santos-Tam of the Hawaii Construction Alliance.
Opponents insist the development will create a commuter's nightmare.
"What happens when those extra 7,000, 10,000, 12,000 cars hit the merge? H1 will become a parking lot," Sierra Club Oahu's Anthony Aalto said.
Castle & Cooke said thirty percent of Koa Ridge residences will be affordable. The price will depend on interest rates.
"The people who can buy these properties are people who can take care of their credit, a teacher, a fireman," executive director Bruce Barrett said.
"Under the current affordable housing rules that the developer will have to comply with, they can sell a unit at say between $650,000 to $700,000 and qualify them as affordable. That's not affordable housing. That's market price housing," councilman Ron Menor said.
Despite four votes with reservations the Council decision was unanimous. The bill now goes to Mayor Kirk Caldwell. If the legal language fits he said he will sign it, clearing the way for Koa Ridge to finally get off the drawing board.