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Ka`u News Briefs Tuesday, May 19, 2015

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A proposed development at Discovery Harbour includes a small hotel, condominiums and shopping center
. Map from South Point Investment Group
DISCOVERY HARBOUR RESORT DEVELOPMENT PLANS are part of the discussion surrounding the Ka`u Community Development Plan. Deadline for community comments for the entire draft Ka`u plan is June 1. See kaucdp.info.
      Last week, Discovery Harbour community members studied a plan presented by South Point Investment Group that would add a small hotel, condominiums and shopping center to Discovery Harbour, as well as renovate its golf course.
      About 75 attended the meeting run by the county Planning Department with planner Ron Whitmore, who is in charge of the Ka`u Community Development Plan.
Discovery Harbour and its golf course would benefit from small-scale lodging, like
Ko`ele Lodge on Lana`i, says South Point Investment Group.
      Gary McMickle, managing partner for South Point Investment Group, presented the idea of a small resort development with a 40-room lodge at Discovery Harbour, away from the uninhabited Ka`u coastline. He and his partners propose their development to be located at the entrance to Discovery Harbour off of Wakea Avenue with a total of 225 resort units, including hotel rooms, cottages and low-rise condos. McMickle showed photos of resort developments as examples of what could be done there. He showed Ko`ele Lodge on Lana`i as a hotel. He showed Po`ipu Shopping Village on Kaua`i, the Kukui`ula shopping center, also on Kaua`i, and the Shops at Mauna Lani. He showed footprints of these buildings superimposed on a Discovery Harbour plan.
      Among enterprise examples listed as possibilities for the proposed Discovery Harbour commercial center are a gourmet food store, snack shop, gift shop, tourist activity business, seven clothing stores, three art galleries and five restaurants.
According to Gary McMickle, only about 25 percent of Discovery
Harbour's lots have homes on them.
      McMickle said that the golf course will be improved and stressed that visitor accommodations are needed to support the cost of maintaining the golf course. He said that the golf course failed years ago when owners were spending $50,000 a month to maintain it with little income.
       Calling Discovery Harbour “a diamond in the rough,” McMickle said that one reason his group thinks their plan will put Discovery Harbour into recovery is because so much infrastructure, including water lines for the commercial center and the roads, were installed in the past for unbuilt development.
      The plan suggests that Discovery Harbour could not only be reached from Kama`oa Road and Wakea Avenue but also Ka`alu`alu-Wai`ohinu Road.
      The plans were drawn by RTKL, an ARCADIS Company, which McMickle described as one the top visitor accommodation designers in the world. He promised that the buildings would be very Hawaiian with a lot of vegetation.
      The parcels where the development would go are currently classified Agriculture by the state and Open by the county. For the parcels, the draft Ka`u Community Development Plan suggests: “Explore with the community the possibility of establishing a ‘Low Density Urban’ or ‘Retreat Resort Area.’”
      During the public meeting, county planner Whitmore put forth options landowners could choose to gain approvals for their project at Discovery Harbour.
      One option is to apply for a Special Permit. The Windward Planning Commission would review and make recommendations, but the State Land Use Commission would make the final decision. Public hearings would be held at both steps, and the permit can be specific to particular uses and be conditioned.
      A second option is Rezone, in which the State Land Use Commission would have to change the property from Ag to Urban, and the county would have to approve a General Plan amendment and change of zoning. This process would likely have three steps: Windward Planning Commission, County Council and State Land Use Commission. Public hearings would be held at each step, and the permits can be conditioned.
      Both routes for the development would include environmental review, including historic preservation, water, wastewater and traffic. Whitmore explained that permits would very likely include conditions to mitigate impacts and require infrastructure improvements, such as water system improvements and a wastewater treatment system.
Ka`u Learning Academy, currently at Discovery Harbour Clubhouse, would move
to a new building on five acres donated by the developer.  
      McMickle said in an interview that a permit for a project on the land was approved by the county in the early 1970s and that he has proposed sitting down with representatives of the county to update that permit, adjusting the permit for the smaller resort development planned by his group.
      Community members supportive of the plan said that it would be a way to put Discovery Harbour and its golf course not only into recovery but also provide economic development. Only about 25 percent of the lots have houses on them, the golf course clubhouse is now used by a school, its pool abandoned, and the golf course is largely cared for by volunteers. There are currently no neighborhood stores for food and other items. A petition with 134 signatures supporting the project was presented to the county during the meeting.
      Local business owners Wally Young and Wally Andrade both offered their support for the project, talking about the need for jobs for young people.
      More than 520 acres owned by McMickle are makai of the Discovery Harbour houses and golf course and could be used to expand the community in the distant future, McMickle said. He also noted that he will to donate five acres at a place called the Bunker, where he had planned to build a house with a spectacular view of the coast toward Volcano, to the new charter school located at the old golf clubhouse.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

American Red Cross volunteers respond to the brushfire at Green Sands.
Photo by Yukie Ohashi
AMERICAN RED CROSS’ RESPONSE to the May 11 Green Sands brushfire underscored the urgent need for disaster volunteers who reside in the Ka`u District, said spokesperson Yukie Ohashi. While firefighters battled the blaze that burned one home and threatened many others, Red Cross was called into action by Civil Defense to open up an evacuation shelter at Na`alehu Community Center. Shelter workers from Ocean View quickly mobilized and housed 23 residents until the blaze was under control and roadways re-opened. 
      In the days following the outbreak, volunteers from Hilo, Kea`au, Volcano and Kona provided community outreach and individual assistance to affected families. Ongoing support is being provided to the homeowner whose home burned to the ground.
      “Our volunteers are ready to respond islandwide, but ideally, we would like to have disaster responders in each community,” says Barney Sheffield, Hawai`i Red Cross Disaster Coordinator for Hawai`i County. “The unfortunate Green Sands fire highlights the need for Red Cross to recruit volunteers in Ka`u. This is especially crucial as we head into hurricane season.”
      Red Cross has scheduled disaster training classes for new volunteers on July 11 and 18 at Pahala Hongwanji Mission. Interested persons can call or email Ohashi at 990-4777 or yohashi@hawaiiantel.net for online application instructions. Use of computers at Pahala Public Library can be arranged for individuals needing computer and Internet access.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard asks her Ka`u constituents to Say No to GMOs.
U.S. REP. TULSI GABBARD IS CALLING for constituents to voice their opposition to the DARK Act, or Deny Americans the Right to Know Act. According to signforgood.com, the act “would not only block all states from labeling genetically engineered foods but also make it much harder for the Food & Drug Administration to ever mandate national labeling.” 
      “Hawai`i is such a beautiful place, and we have many resources right at our fingertips,” Gabbard said. “One of the best is our ability to grow our own food, and to do it in a way that’s sustainable. But our farmers and our communities are dealing with huge multi-national agribusiness corporations that keep their use of GMOs secret from consumers. That’s just plain wrong. Each of us has a basic right to know what’s in our food.
      “Congress is on the verge of passing the DARK Act – a bill that would ban states from requiring GMO labeling. If all of us speak up together, we can stop this disastrous bill from becoming law.
      “Hawai`i is a leader on this issue and one of 20 states seeking laws to require GMO labeling. But we also have to think of our brothers and sisters elsewhere, and fight to require GMO labeling across the country.
      “For more than a decade, federal GMO labeling legislation has been introduced, but has failed to pass. With everyone speaking out, I know we can stop the DARK Act from becoming law.”
      See http://signforgood.com/noGMOs/?code=tulsigabbard.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Kai Ho`opi`i
NELSON DOI, one of the pioneers of Japanese Americans serving in government, passed away yesterday at 93 years of age. A Big Island native, Doi was one of the authors of the State of Hawai`i Constitution. He served as lieutenant governor, as a territorial and state senator and judge. He grew up in a family that founded T.W. Doi Store in Kawaihae. Doi advocated for statehood and education and prison reform. He retired to Kamuela and helped establish the North Hawai`i Community Hospital.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KAI HO`OPI`I RETURNS TO SHARE music of his `ohana from Maui tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.

HAWAI`I WILDLIFE FUND HOLDS an estuary restoration workday Thursday. Volunteers meet staff at 7:45 a.m. at Wai`ohinu Park. Potluck-style lunch. RSVP at kahakai.cleaups@gmail.com.

KA`U AG WATER COOPERATIVE DISTRICT meeting is Thursday at 4 p.m. at Royal Hawaiian Macnut Office in Pahala. Call Jeffrey McCall at 937-1056 for more information.

SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS AT PAHALAPLANTATIONCOTTAGES.COM AND KAUCOFFEEMILL.COM. KA`U COFFEE MILL IS OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.

See kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_May2015.pdf.
See kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.pdf and
kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.swf.






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