BIG ISLAND NEWS - Hiluhilu gets the go-ahead

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Summit to Sea Realty Corporation

Saturday, July 8, 2006 9:18 AM HST

HILO -- Hiluhilu Development's rezoning and $480 million "University Village" project on 425.2 North Kona acres got final council approval Friday.

The council voted 6-2 to approve rezoning from agricultural and open to project district Hiluhilu's acreage a mile northeast of the Kona International Airport mauka of Queen Kaahumanu Highway and below Makalei Estates subdivision.

Bob Jacobson, Puna, Ka'u, and South Kona, and Angel Pilago, who represents the North Kona, cast the two dissenting votes. Gary Safarik, of Puna, was absent.

Jacobson consistently has voted against the project since council first considered it in May, and opposed any agricultural rezoning since being elected in 2002. Pilago, however, previously voted in favor of the development, and changed his position because he disagreed with the language of Bill 224.

Pilago was "perturbed" that the eighth draft introduced by Council Chairman Stacy Higa stated that, "In lieu of paying the fair share contribution, the applicant may contribute land and/or construct improvements/facilities related to parks and recreation, fire, solid waste facilities and roads within the region."

Pilago preferred the legislation state that the applicant "shall" contribute land and/or construct public facilities.

Council approval of Bills 224 and 225 means that Hiluhilu -- a partnership between discount broker Charles Schwab and Keauhou-Kona Construction Company -- may build 1,116 residential units, with 200 deemed affordable; commercial space for medical clinics, offices and stores; and a 120-unit University Inn and Conference Center.

Hiluhilu, as part of its project, has committed to building a 20,000-square-foot building on 500 acres of state land south of its property. Additionally, it must build a two-lane connector road between its northern boundary to Kaiminani Drive through the university's permanent campus and another road to connect Queen Kaahumanu and Mamalahoa Highways.

Hiluhilu is working with Peter Lynch Investments and the state to cross their land, and not use Makalei Drive for that mauka-makai connector.

Makalei Drive is, according to the bill, to be "a 'minor road' and will not be open to the public until the collector Road 4 is open for public use." Collector Road 4 is the mauka-makai connector.

A July 6 letter to the County Council from Lynch indicates he has been communicating with Hiluhilu and the county about an 8,000-foot-long road of way that would traverse 23.5 acres of his land and that "any changes in land uses for our future development cannot be guaranteed by the county and may require State Land Use Boundary amendments and county rezoning in accordance with state laws and county ordinances."

Present were Hawaii Community College Rockne Freitas and Regent Andres Albano Jr.

Higa; Virginia Isbell, of South Kona; Pete Hoffmann, of Kohala; Fred Holschuh, of Hamakua; and James Arakaki, of Hilo; all expressed appreciation that he was in attendance and asked that he and his fellow regents will begin to plan and urge legislative funding for the West Hawaii campus now.

"You bring credibility to the whole project," Arakaki told Albano. "Mr. Freitas has always been telling us the regents are for it. Then we hear stories that you want to go to Hawaiian Homes. We hear conflicting things. You being here tells us this is what you really want to do."

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