Panel approves
rezoning for new
Mililani homes

The action allows the Koa Ridge
project to move forward

By Diana Leone

Developer Castle & Cooke Homes cleared the first hurdle on the road to building a 3,237-home subdivision yesterday when the state Land Use Commission approved reclassifying 762 agricultural acres in Mililani to urban use.

The company will spend the next three to four years seeking approvals for city land redesignation, city rezoning, subdivision, water systems and building permits.

It is the largest single reclassification of land to urban designation from agriculture since 1995, when Kukui'ola Development Co. received such a change for more than 800 acres in Koloa, Kauai, commission records show.

After the approval, Castle & Cooke Homes President Harry Saunders III pledged that the company would work closely with the state Department of Education to have public schools for the proposed subdivision in place "as early as is feasible."

The commission modified its June 12 proposal that school buildings must be ready at the time residents move into the first homes of the development.

Now, according to the commission, buyers can move in as long as Castle & Cooke and the Department of Education have made sure adequate schools have either been built or will be built in time to meet the needs of the subdivision's children.

The change allows children of early residents to attend other Mililani schools until there are enough students to occupy a new school.

Mililani residents pushed the requirement for schools, which is the strictest ever issued by the commission.

They protested that under current DOE methods, planning for new schools does not start until there are about 400 elementary students, 750 middle school students or 1,000 high school students. The situation, they said, has resulted in overcrowding, multi-track scheduling and students being bused to other areas.

Commissioner Stanley Roehrig said he believes the new requirement will work.

"If we can put astronauts on the moon, we certainly can figure out how to have school facilities and houses ready at the same time," Roehrig said.

It is estimated that the development ultimately would generate enough students for one elementary and middle school and part of a high school.

In a 10-month-long series of hearings on its redistricting request, Castle & Cooke Homes has presented its case to the nine-member commission, along with Pacific Health Community Inc., which plans to build a 210-acre health care campus to include a replacement for Wahiawa General Hospital.

Other Land Use Commission requirements include having the companies prepare in-depth analyses of how their projects would affect the area's groundwater supply and traffic patterns.

The Sierra Club remains opposed to the project. Its director, Jeff Mikulina, said the project is not needed because 13,000 housing units already are approved for Central Oahu, more than 700 acres of prime agricultural land would be lost and water supplies will be adversely affected.

The minimum of six commissioners voted for the project. Outgoing Commissioner Casey Jarman was the lone vote against the measure. She said the applicants had not shown that they qualified for the rezoning.

Commissioner Peter Yukimura was absent, and Commissioner Roy Catalani has not appeared at the hearings and abstained from voting, citing a potential conflict of interest.

The commission declined to redistrict a third tract, the 485-acre Koa Ridge Mauka, which would have doubled the number of housing units.

E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin