After having read and heard over three years’ worth of public testimony, the State Land Use Commission (LUC) will decide the fate of `O`oma on Friday, Nov. 5th. At this hearing, commissioners are scheduled to make the final vote on whether this coastal land in Kona will retain its State Conservation classification or be changed to Urban to allow development of over 1000 residences and 300 commercial spaces.
Overwhelming public support for `O`oma’s Conservation protection has shown that there are few realistic claims that reclassification would serve the public’s best interests. In fact, commissioners have even more reasons to uphold past denials of `O`oma’s reclassification now than they did in the early 1990’s. Although the owners bought the property knowing it was classified as conservation land, they now want to develop it. But the proposed development has failed to adequately address these concerns: restrictions to traditional public shoreline access; the economic viability of the project; the loss of Public Trust resources; the lack of potable water sources and wastewater treatment; and the risk of lawsuits due to allowing urban development next to an expanding airport.
“We’ve been told that the WHEA Charter School, which has operated for over a decade on the land next to `O`oma and the airport, is being moved for noise and safety reasons,” says Janice Palma-Glennie, Vice-Chair of Surfrider’s Kona Kai Ea Chapter. “How ironic that taxpayers might have to foot relocation and other significant costs due to an extremely poor decision made over 10 years ago (that ignored the threat of an expanding international airport). The larger question for the LUC is: will this proposed new development need to be moved at taxpayer expense, including legal costs, if the wrong decision is made here today?”
“Despite the previous projections, assurances, approvals, and efforts, the failing development at neighboring Kohanaiki presents a daily reminder of the tremendous environmental, social, and visual impacts of unnecessary coastal dependent development,” adds Hannah Springer of Surfrider’s Kona Kai Ea Chapter. “I pray those impacts are not compounded by approval of this application to reclassify these lands at `O`oma into the Urban designation. Retain the Conservation designation.”
“As part of our Preserving Special Places campaign, the Surfrider Foundation and its local Kona Kai Ea chapter are dedicated to protecting `O`oma from unnecessary development and preserving its conservation classification,” says Stuart Coleman, Hawaii Coordinator. “For decades, the people of Kona have successfully fought to protect these lands in similar hearings, and we ask that the LUC respect the will of the vast majority over the interests of a few private developers.”
Submitted by the Surfrider Foundation. With four chapters in Hawaii, the Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches through Conservation, Activism, Research and Education (CARE).