Wednesday, November 20, 2002

City & County of Honolulu

Measures to add
homes in Central
Oahu advance

The development plans
raise concerns about
crowding in schools

By Crystal Kua

The City Council continued to debate urban sprawl in Central Oahu yesterday as two of its committees advanced measures that would pave the way for more housing in the area.

The Zoning Committee moved along a requested zoning change for the second phase of the Waiawa by Gentry housing development. A public hearing will be held on the zoning request at the Dec. 4 Council meeting.

"What happens is that we got schools that children are overflowing and traffic clogged," said Councilman Duke Bainum, zoning committee chairman. "I know we need homes, but we keep approving homes and I don't know when enough is enough."

The discussion came on the same day that the Council's Planning Committee approved the Central Oahu Sustainable Communities plan, a 25-year plan that dictates the number of new homes that will be built in the area bordered by Waiawa, Royal Kunia, Wahiawa and the burgeoning Mililani subdivisions.

During the final community public hearing Monday night, some Central Oahu residents said the plan does not provide enough infrastructure to sustain the area's growth. The Central Oahu plan also comes up for final approval on Dec. 4.

Similar concerns were raised over the second phase of Gentry's Waiawa project.

"This is a large project. This is kind of, I think, an example of what the discussion earlier today about the central plan is about is that how much housing can we have, do we have enough adequate infrastructure in terms of water, in terms of roads, in terms of schooling," Bainum said.

In 1998, the first phase of the Gentry project received a zoning change for more than 3,000 homes, retail space and golf development, but nothing has been built yet.

Gentry is now asking that an additional 175 acres of agriculturally zoned land owned by Kamehameha Schools be changed to allow for nearly 3,000 more residential units, including single-family homes, town homes, garden apartments and detached condominiums.

Gentry's Tosh Hosoda said that the first and second phases have always been envisioned as one project.

But Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the Sierra Club's Hawaii chapter, told the committee that the project's second phase is premature.

"We're opposed to more sprawl in Central Oahu," he said.

Mikulina voiced concern about the possibility that the project may need to divert water from the Windward Oahu. Earlier this year, Kamehameha Schools withdrew its request before the state Water Commission to divert 4.2 million gallons of Waiahole Ditch water for the Waiawa by Gentry project.

"It just really doesn't adhere to good planning principles," Mikulina said.

Hosoda said that Gentry is doing its fair share of developing schools, roads and other infrastructure.

"I know we have done quite a bit in trying to meet what we think are our responsibilities," Hosoda said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

City & County of Honolulu

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