Panel tries to manage growth on Big Isle
KAILUA-KONA » The Hawaii County Council is plowing ahead with a "concurrency policy" to better manage road, water and waste needs in the face of rapid growth.
Council members believe it is the first legislation of its type in the state.
The council last month resolved to send two sets of competing bills to a planning specialist in the mayor's office to create the strongest, most comprehensive policy.
Guidance is needed to ensure developers adequately plan for roads, water, wastewater, solid waste, park, and police and fire department needs and ensure public facilities are built first or in tandem with private construction.
The council hopes to adopt a policy that will establish minimum standards for public facilities, spell out a public facilities improvement plan, and allow the planning director to review rezonings and subdivisions to ensure they meet the minimum standards.
At a Planning Committee meeting, South Kona Councilwoman Virginia Isbell introduced bills that create a "concurrency management system," which would ensure that public facilities are expanded concurrent with private development. It would also create a way to identify needed infrastructure and services.
The full council also agreed to resurrect two competing bills from Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann that deal with the growth issue. In the year she has been working on the bills, Isbell sought advice from James Kent Associates, a social ecology and public policy group with offices in Kona, Oregon and Colorado.
In a three-page report, Kent suggested the county create an independent position to implement new programs and avoid overburdening any one existing department. He also suggested assessing developers fees upfront for an infrastructure trust fund, which would be earmarked to address deficiencies islandwide.
The council is expected at its meeting Wednesday to refer all four bills to Roy Takemoto for revision. Takemoto, a mayoral assistant with planning experience, already is familiar with the bills. Planning Director Chris Yuen said the review must be completed within 120 days, although he acknowledged it is only the start of a long process.
Yuen said he already is applying concurrency principles to rezoning applications.
Committee members also proposed formation of a committee to work on refining the concurrency legislation.
"We need to bring all the stakeholders to the table," said Gary Safarik. "Unless we do, this will be something that we can all only wish for."