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Why can’t developers, community communicate?

To the Forum:

Here is an

interesting question: Why didn’t the Planning Commission suggest Jimmy Pfleuger

give the Kilauea Neighborhood Association a visit to discuss his proposed new

subdivision before giving preliminary approval?

The KNA is one of the most

active community associations on the island, and the PC has an admirable

history of referring applicants for variances to the KNA before making its

determinations.

In just the last 12 months many long and interesting KNA

meetings have been spent discussing schools, fruit stands, churches, bed and

breakfast applications, bike paths, and yes, even whole new

residential/commercial subdivision proposals.

Each of these proposals had

or might have an impact on the nature and quality of life in our laid back

rural community. Yet, one of the most visible earthwork projects in recent

memory — quietly pursued over the last few years and culminating in a berm

building blitzkrieg — has quickly received preliminary subdivision approval

without so much as a courtesy call to the KNA. How can this be?

Well, the

short answer is that a public hearing for subdivision approval is not required.

Accurate, true, and irrefutable. But, ya know, I’ll bet somewhere in the CZO’s

there is some verbiage that gives the Planning Commission some flexibility in

these matters.

The Citizen’s Advisory Committee recognized that lack of

public participation in subdivision planning is a serious omission in the

current planning process. The Planning Department and the Planning Commission

are well aware that the KNA is currently engaged in a community based, long

term planning effort for the greater Kilauea area.

No “requirement” for a

public hearing is one thing, but no public discussion whatsoever is another

thing altogether.

Often it is only after sufficient public attention is

focused on an issue that some things get done, or undone. And with a

subdivision of this scale the public deserves to know what is going on ahead of

time.

In this case, there seems to be at least four areas where further

information is needed, and without a credible public forum, there will be more

unproductive rumors and innuendo (and Letters to the Editor) than informed

public discussion.

The first issue, stream impoundment, is a state issue.

Among other problems, those beautiful new ponds gracefully stepping down the

hillside to the ocean were never evaluated for impact on native fish, or reef

runoff during construction.

The second issue is the county grading permits.

Why was so much work allowed to proceed without permits? We live downwind —

don’t ask about the dust! Are the permit fees so outrageous, or the fines so

ineffectual that any developer in his right mind would choose the

latter?

Third is the relationship between the developer, the Director of

Public Works, and the engineering firm now managed by the DPW director’s

daughter.

Fourth is the issue of whether the berms are in conformance with

setback and height restrictions of the Department of Transportation.

Yet

the public, through the well-established and credible voice of the Kilauea

Neighborhood Association, has never had an opportunity to ask these, or other

questions.

Let’s be very, very clear here: Stopping this development is not

the issue. Private property and land owner’s rights to seek a return on

investment, are not the issue. Community awareness of projects that have

profound implications for the social fabric of the community is a major issue.

The Planning Commission should guide developers in that direction.

It is a

matter of the climate being created around development issues. If simple

courtesy isn’t expected of developers by the Planning Commission because it

isn’t “legally required,” then it isn’t much of a stretch to imagine why

communities get distrustful and stubborn when questions are raised.

There

are two other “high end” developments under way right now in Kilauea. I wonder

how many residents are aware of that, or the impacts they will most certainly

have on the community?

As the community watches itself being morphed into

a private get-a-way for Silicone Valley and L.A., how will the frustration get

expressed? Are the battles over beach access, viewplanes, traffic impacts,

stream degradation, etc., just being postponed?

This developer still has a

wonderful opportunity to leave a shining legacy — an example of how to

integrate, as contrasted to “impose,” a high end residential community into the

texture of Kilauea. With such a development, there are many advantages that

could be pointed to so the community at large may reasonably be expected to be

a good neighbor. But a good neighbor policy starts with simple

courtesy.

Confrontations usually occur when communication breaks down, or

is never attempted. Why wouldn’t the Planning Commission try to avoid that

scenario when such rich opportunities lay so close at hand??

Bill Chase

Kilauea

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