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Honokohau Village project gives Kona CDP its first test

Charrette participants vote on how they would like Honokohau Village to look. (Hawaii247 photo by Karin Stanton)

Charrette participants vote on how they would like Honokohau Village to look. (Hawaii247 photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton/Hawaii247 Contributing Editor

A series of meetings centered around a 60-acre parcel mauka of Honokohau Harbor is the first chance for residents to see the Kona Community Development Plan in action.

The charrette, which runs through Oct. 27 at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa, will allow the community to walk through the master planning and design of a project – Honokohau Village – using the CDP, which took three years to complete and was adopted by the County Council in September 2008.

Partners in this collaboration include county officials and staff, residents, and PlaceMakers, an Alabama-based design and planning consulting firm that has a $150,000 contract to conduct the educational exercise and complete a potential design for Honokohau Village.

Right now, there is no plan, no design, no development timeline and no vision for the land, which wraps around the under-construction West Hawaii Civic Center and is owned by a private developer and the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

“This is an illustrative project to show the community how transit-oriented development works,” said Susan Henderson, PlaceMakers director of design. “We’ll have a proposal on the table by Tuesday. We’ll present a design that is one option to go with. We’ll be able to say, ‘this is one way to go under the CDP.'”

The charrette includes multiple workshops, open houses and ‘talk story’ meetings to allow for public input, although Henderson said she and the PlaceMakers team have a pretty solid idea of the Kona vision.

“This CDP is very well done. It’s really, really impressive to us that there is such overwhelming support for it” Henderson said. “It’s an anomaly. I believe Hawaii is the only place that’s done this.”

The Wednesday evening open house included small group discussions on the vision for Honokohau Village. (Hawaii247 photo by Karin Stanton)

The Wednesday evening open house included small group discussions on the vision for Honokohau Village. (Hawaii247 photo by Karin Stanton)

The CDP serves as an intermediate step between the county’s general plan and zoning, Henderson said, and puts “everybody on the same page right away.”

Henderson said the only part of the plan that could use review is the concurrency section, which calls for developers to either complete public benefits (i.e., water, sewer, parks, connector roads) before or simultaneous with actual construction.

“The concurrency regulations are good to have, but technically they can make it very difficult for the developer to move forward, especially in this economic climate,” she said.

“Now is the time to have a frank, open, public discussion about that,” Henderson said. “Because if the business plan doesn’t work, all the developers will go to Maui where they can do anything they want.”

While that may be the greatest wish for many in West Hawaii who have felt duped and used by developers over the last several decades, it may not be the smartest path forward.

County planner Allen Salavea said he and Mayor Billy Kenoi’s administration welcome the chance for transparency in development projects and collaboration with the people who actually live in West Hawaii.

“We hope (this process) is the first step in establishing a new development paradigm for Kona certainly and possibly for the whole Big Island,” he said. “This is where private developers, the county and the community can begin to rebuild some trust and work together.”

And working together may make it a whole lot easier to live together.

Nathan Norris, PlaceMakers implantation advisor, said the idea is to create a user-friendly neighborhood.

“What we’re really looking for is a place not just for cars, but for people,” he said. “The best land should be given to the entire community rather than the highest bidder. We want designs that celebrate rather than degrade.”

The charrette is a “drop in when you can” community outreach for input experience, so drop in when you can …


Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009

VDG Customization: Technical Discussion

2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Opening Presentation and Visioning Talk Story

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009

Focused Talk Story: Resource Management

10:30 a.m. – noon

Focused Talk Story: Economic Developm.ent

1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Public Presentation: Calibration Talk Story

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009

Open House Hours

10:30 a.m. – noon

3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Pin-Up and Talk Story

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 25, 2009

Open House Hours

10:30 a.m. – noon

2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Focused Talk Story: Resource Management

3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 26, 2009

Open House Hours

1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Open House and Talk Story

6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009

Aloha Presentation

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

— Find out more

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