Rezoning for Kona
project is approved

The developer must phase in
construction with nearby roadwork

HILO >> The Hawaii County Council has approved rezoning for an 83-acre project near the Kona airport that would include a major shopping center, a hotel with 250 rooms, and condominiums or apartments with 390 rooms.

In approving the Clifto's Kona Coast project on Wednesday, the Council added a condition requiring that construction be phased in with the widening of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway.

Mayor Harry Kim had expressed concern earlier that the project could be completed three years before the highway expansion. He said he would veto approval for the project unless the highway problem was resolved.

Principal developer Cliff Morris has agreed to building no more than half the project in three years, 75 percent in four years and 100 percent in five years, which is the earliest the state believes the second phase of the widening project could be completed.

Morris has committed $750,000 toward the design of the highway widening in a bid to speed the project and ensure his required intersection is in line with the Department of Transportation's widening plan.

Morris also promised a 300-foot-wide strip of land along the shoreline for park use.

Kona Councilmen Joe Reynolds and Curtis Tyler both voted against the rezoning, expressing lack of confidence the state will complete the highway widening by 2009. Tyler cited a recent memo sent by state Transportation Director Rodney Haraga to Kim, saying the developer's contribution toward the design costs would not necessarily speed the project.

The project by Clifto's Kona would be built along Queen Kaahumanu Highway next to the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii and near the Keahole-Kona Airport. Council members have heard concerns about how the project would affect traffic in North Kona, which already is seeing increased road congestion.



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