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Heated debate rises over elderly housing project in Manoa

A debate is continuing over a proposed affordable housing project for the elderly in Manoa Valley.
Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 10:17 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 6, 2022 at 10:28 PM HST
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MANOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - A debate is continuing over a proposed affordable housing project for the elderly in Manoa Valley.

Lin Yee Chung Association, which owns the 11-acre parcel along East Manoa Road, wants to develop the Manoa Banyan Court housing to ensure that the elder population has a place to live. But, also to generate income for the Manoa Chinese Cemetery, which is also owned by the association.

“We would like to work with the community, not against the community, to complete a vibrant resource to serve the needs of the community,” Association President Charles Wong told the Manoa Neighborhood Board Wednesday night.

But the community has concerns. Opponents have staged sign-waving rallies at Manoa Road and Oahu Avenue. Many residents have voiced concerns that the development will increase traffic and congestion from the additional 288 one-bedroom units in the Woodlawn section of Manoa.

Some opponents also said the association is proceeding too rapidly. Someone leaked an unfinished version of a draft environmental assessment.

The association contends the project is still in its earliest stages.

“Mr. Wong, who will be the developer of the Manoa Banyan Court?” asked neighborhood board member Whitney Bosell.

“Member Bosell, those are chicken-and-egg questions. We haven’t even gotten there yet,” Wong replied.

The state’s environmental reviewers said the project hasn’t even reached their desks yet.

“Until something is submitted to us, we don’t know anything about it,” Tom Eisen of the state’s Environmental Review Program told the board.

Board Chair Dylan Armstrong also told board members that he had a received a letter from the city’s Department of Permitting and Planning, telling him that the association’s environmental assessment was incomplete because it lacked a traffic study. Wong said that such a study would be completed.

City Councilman Calvin Say also said the it’s too early to make an assessment.

“I have not taken any position on it,” he said. “And I’ve shared with a lot of the residents also that the particular plan is in its conceptual stage, so you’ll have the opportunity of having much more input.”

Those opportunities will include a planned town hall meeting on April 30, as well as the next neighborhood board meeting in May.

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