Council moves to slow growth in Kona
HILO » The Hawaii County Council put new restrictions on West Hawaii growth yesterday, approving two resolutions temporarily blocking new rezonings in the region.
"This gives the people of West Hawaii an opportunity to breathe," Hamakua Councilmember Dominic Yagong said.
"We have been neglected on infrastructure way more than a decade, possibly two decades," said Kona Councilmember Brenda Ford.
The only councilmember to vote against the temporary halt in rezonings was Hilo Councilmember Donald Ikeda, whose stance sparked a sharp response from Yagong. "What Mr. Ikeda lacks is compassion," Yagong told other councilmembers.
Ikeda did not respond directly, but said the resolutions had no force of law and probably violated a legal requirement for the Council to process rezoning requests.
"How long are we going to hold back development?" he asked.
The Council was cautious about calling the action a moratorium, referring instead to a "delay" in rezonings in four districts, North and South Kohala and North and South Kona.
The resolutions are linked to community development plans in Kona and Kohala being prepared with extensive citizens input.
Kona Councilmember Angel Pilago said the delayed rezonings show a "paradigm shift," since they are a response to citizens who asked for the delays until the two community development plans are completed -- September in the case of Kona and January 2008 in the case of Kohala.
The community developments plans are intended as detailed guides to implementing the revised county general plan approved in 2005. It also reflected a slowdown, removing resort designation from several areas that had been approved for resorts but where none was ever built.
The Council resolutions join a no-rezoning policy in a more limited area near Kailua-Kona put in place by Mayor Harry Kim.
Kim also avoids the term "moratorium," referring instead to "concurrency," meaning no new commercial rezonings along congested Queen Kaahumanu Highway until roads in the area are "concurrently" improved to handle traffic.