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Plenty of beachside in Ooma plan

The shoreline will not be substantially changed. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor

There’s plenty of beachside in the Ooma Beachside Village plan, even though the state Land Use Commission has yet to approve the mixed-use master plan.

The developers have dedicated 75 acres of the 302-acre parcel to remain unimproved shoreline open space, including popular fishing and scuba spots.

Ooma is again before the state Land Use Commission, which is considering the rezoning request from conservation to urban district. The rezone request includes 181 acres of the total parcel.

The LUC meets at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 16 and Thursday, June 17 at the King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. Project consultants are expected provide testimony Wedneday; public testimony is scheduled to be heard starting at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Residents have voiced concerns about infrastructure deficits, protecting cultural sites and nearshore waters, and over-development along the coast. Some also have expressed concern the developer may not see the project to completion.

During a recent tour of the property, developer representative and project manager Peter Young addressed the concerns and misinformation around the plan that includes up to 1,200 residential units, retail, office and restaurant space, a 3-acre charter school site and the shoreline open space.

Young, a former director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and current president of Hookuleana consultant firm, said the project is being developed slowly and with sensitivity toward the community’s wishes and the area’s cultural significance.

Land owner Dennis Moresco expects the project to be finished under the supervision of his son, Young said, with full build-out expected in about 20 years.

The Environmental Impact Study is complete and has been accepted, Young said. Following the LUC consideration, the plan still needs county approval.

Ooma’s current timeline will see bulldozers arriving in 2012 or 2013 at the earliest, Young said.

“It’s not going to sell overnight and you can’t build it overnight,” he said.

Project manager Peter Young stands approximately 1,100 feet from the shore. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Shoreline open space

Although asking to rezone conservation land, Young said Ooma’s owners are committed to preserving the shoreline, any and all culturally significant sites and the Kona way of life.

“The setback is at least 1,100 feet from the shoreline,” Young said. “That’s 50 percent greater than the width of Ala Moana Park on Oahu and about the distance from the seawall to Hilo Hattie’s in Kailua-Kona. It’s about the same distance as from Old Puako Road down to Hapuna beach.”

Toward the northern end of the project, the setback is closer to 1,700 feet and marks the continuation of an archeological preserve on Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority land.

The area includes such archeological features as burials and heiau, Young said, “and that’s one of the reasons it’s being protected.”

This shoreline swath would be dedicated as a resource subzone within the conservation district, Young said, which ensures sustained use of the natural resources and allows only park-like development.

“We’ve taken container loads of trash out of here,” he said. “A lot of people didn’t respect this place.”

Young said with proper, but minimal, management, the shoreline area will be cleaned up and left in its natural state.

“Residents will be able to enjoy the shoreline from their homes and everyone will have enjoyment of the beach,” he said.

Young also noted an additional 18 acres will be dedicated to open public park space at no cost to the county.

(Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Project details

Available will be a mix of market, workforce/gap and affordable housing, in addition to single-family, live-work, multi-family and home sites. They are expected to be primary residences, rather than second homes or estates.

Some lots around the perimeter will be sold individually and owners will build the residences.

“This is not a gated community. It’s local resident-oriented,” Young said. “We can make it viable if we focus on local residents who want to get into a project that’s in an area normally restricted to resorts.”

At least 20 percent of the homes – both single and multi-family – will be affordable housing units and they will be included within the project.

Another concern has been noise from the airport. Young said that should not be an issue as at least 80 percent of air traffic is to the north of the airport.

A private wastewater treatment plant is planned, which will supply irrigation for the village. The project includes a commercial desalinization plant for residential use. The pair of facilities is intended to make Ooma self-sufficient in terms of potable and irrigation water needs.

Plans also will be developed to monitor groundwater, manage storm and surface-water runoff and prevent pollution.

To the south, the Ooma parcel abuts Kohanaiki's golf course. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Finding support

The Kona Community Development Plan directs future growth north from Kailua Village toward Kona International Airport.

“We are consistent with that,” Young said.

A citizen advisory group was convened to give input and feedback on the project, as well as assist the developer in answering community concerns. That group fully supports the development.

The National Park Service has no objections.

Project consultants met with descendant groups and have won their support. The Royal Order of Kamehameha I – Moku O Hawaii has voiced support not just of the project, but the process Ooma is using.

In September, Ooma Beachside Village received the “2009 Outstanding Planning Award” from the Hawaii Chapter of the American Planning Association.

This is the third time the land sandwiched between NELHA and what is now the Kohanaiki golf course has been under consideration for rezoning. The previous efforts seeking hotel and resort uses – in the 1980s and again in the 1990s – failed.

— Find out more:

The ocean off Ooma is a popular scuba spot. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

The ancient trail that bisects Ooma will be preserved. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

One Response to “Plenty of beachside in Ooma plan”

  1. Kathy McMillen says:

    And does anyone care that plane now fly over the Ooma parcel? I have a lot to say about this with lots of data about the airport. If anyone wants to hear it, email me.


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