Hundreds turn out for controversial development plan

Community members debate Laie development
Published: Oct. 9, 2013 at 3:11 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 9, 2013 at 3:25 AM HST
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KAHUKU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hundreds turned out at Kahuku High School where the Honolulu City Council heard a controversial plan that could pave the way for new housing and hotel developments to the North Shore and Windward Oahu communities.

The Koolau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan, or Bill 47, sets the blue print for future growth in the rural community that first coined the term "Keep the Country Country."

"I oppose Envision Laie. I oppose the expansion of Turtle Bay because it's a lie. The 2009 plan was hijacked, weaseled and brokered in backroom deals," said Hauula resident Joshua Noga.

"They're determined to urbanize our beautiful countryside with more asphalt, concrete and pavement."

Bill 47 provides guidance for a major expansion at the Turtle Bay Resort and new construction at BYU Hawaii and the Polynesian Cultural Center.

It also calls for development at Gunstock Ranch in Malaekahana, which will include some retail development, a light industrial center and 875 new homes. Half the homes will be affordably priced.

Proponents say expansion is long overdue.

"Bill 47 is important because it addresses what the community has stated as their primary needs for decades, which is housing and jobs," said Eric Beaver, CEO of Hawaii Reserves Inc.

BYU Hawaii recently completed a major facelift of its Laie campus, which added seven new buildings. It says it needs the flexibility to add even more construction to meet future growth.

"Housing in the community is maxed for us. In order to bring additional students to the campus, we are going to have to need to provide more housing on campus," said David Lewis, vice president for construction facilities and sustainability at BYUH.

The City Council took no action on Bill 47 and plans future discussions. The bill itself doesn't allow construction to go ahead but it provides the framework for developers to seek zoning and other approvals from the state Land Use Commission and City Council.

During the hearing, development supporters, clad in light blue t-shirts bearing the "Envision Laie" logo, vastly outnumbered opponents, who wore green t-shirts with the "Keep the Country Country" slogan.

But both sides appeared equally vocal about how the plan will help -- or hurt -- their community.

"What we're talking about is a 300 percent proposed increase at Turtle Bay Resort and in the current footprint, sprawling development from Kawela Bay to Kahuku Point and a brand new city at Malaekahana," said Tim Vandeveer, co-chair of Defend Oahu Coalition.

"The Koolau Loa Sustainable Community Plan that's in Bill 47 is not sustainable and is not a community plan."

But Lyle Matagi, a Laie resident, said he supports the plan because it allows area residents to live, work and play in their own community without having to commute daily into town.

"The current lack of are jobs puts more traffic on the highways as residents commute to work outside of our community," Matagi said.

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