Wednesday, February 17, 1999

Some Big Isle residents
oppose plans for
major new prison

By Rod Thompson


HILO -- Several Big Island residents fear re-enactment of the county zoning code is designed to allow Honolulu-style urbanization.

"They want to dump on us," schoolteacher Marcia May told a hearing by the Hawaii County Council last night. "I don't like to see this island run by people from Oahu."

The hearing was intended to gather opinions on how the Council should re-enact the county's zoning code, which Kona Judge Ronald Ibarra had determined was improperly enacted by the Council in 1996 without sufficient public explanation.

They were particularly opposed to state plans to build a major new prison here.

Michelle Bauer said she is afraid of a private proposal to build a prison for the state at Glenwood. "I'm scared to death, is what I am," she said.

Councilwoman Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd tried to reassure Hawaiian Acres community leader Roberta Brashear, who also expressed concerns about a prison.

"You cannot do it through Plan Approval because it doesn't conform to the General Plan," Leithead-Todd said.

Planning Director Virginia Goldstein said, "The prison needs a special permit, and I don't do that." The proposal would have to go through the county Planning Commission and the state Land Use Commission, she said.

Although several speakers feared the 1996 code gives developers too much leeway, Leithead-Todd said several provisions that worry them existed in the previous code.

Rene Siracusa of the Puna Outdoor Circle said she saw no reason to permit 100-foot-high structures in agricultural areas. Leithead-Todd said the provision was in the previous code to cover sugarmills.

Jan Moon of Hilo asked what the newly required "environmental reports" would do.

Goldstein said they will cover the same topics as the former county environmental impact statements, and will apply to more kinds of rezonings. The name was changed because county-mandated environmental studies have always been different from state environmental impact statements, she said.

Leithead-Todd said the matter has been removed from the March 4 Council agenda and an additional workshop will be held March 5 in Hilo. Another public hearing is scheduled at 5 p.m. tomorrow at King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel.

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