Planner of controversial Kaneohe housing project calls critics ‘anti-development’

Planner of controversial Kaneohe housing project calls critics ‘anti-development’

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A controversial housing project being considered for Kaneohe has tentatively been called ‘Serenity Residential,’ but with protests and community opposition to the development, reaction has been anything but serene.

“I believe it’s anti-development, yes,” said Keith Kurahashi, the principal planner for R.M. Towill.

“We are not anti-development. This is not smart development,” countered Kaui Pratt-Aquino, a Kaneohe resident and attorney who opposes the project.

The landowner, Ali’i Tampos of Horseshoe Land Company, wants to re-zone a portion of his five acre property next to Puohala Village, near Castle High School, from preservation to residential.

Kurahashi says the initial idea was to build eight homes. Instead, the company now wants to sell eight home lots for between $500,000 and $550,000 each.

“We’re going to sell the buildable lots that we create for people that will come in and build the homes,” said Kurahashi, who expects the landowner to make a $900,000 profit.

Kurahashi says building the homes themselves was found to be too costly. If the project were cut in half, he says, it would only break even.

“It’s not like he’s going to turn it around and make millions. It’s not gonna happen,” Kurahashi said.

Residents have multiple concerns, from potential flooding to an increase in traffic, and say the rezone of preservation land sets a bad precedent.

“We have spoken clearly in opposition of this project. We have submitted 600 (pieces of) testimony," said Pratt-Aquino. "70% who submitted opposition are from this community.”

The developer says an initial survey showed residents supported new housing, the area doesn’t require flood insurance, and the impact on traffic would be minimal since it’s not a gated community.

“I know they are unhappy about development occurring in their community, but if they could just look at what the facts are about the project,” said Kurahashi.

Honolulu City Council chair Ikaika Anderson says the project fits from a land use perspective.

“This particular property that the applicant is looking to rezone is classified for residential use in the Koolaupoko Sustainable Communities Plan ,which is the plan that guides development,” said Anderson.

However, he’s still going to vote against a rezone.

“My constituents have asked me to vote in opposition of this rezone and I will do so at their request,” he said.

A second city council hearing on the proposed rezone hasn’t been scheduled yet.

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