Hanama’ulu housing still a ways off

LIHU’E — It will be the latter part of 2007 before any new, affordable-housing units are ready for occupancy in a new Hanama’ulu project being proposed by leaders with D. R. Horton – Schuler Division.

Yesterday, they asked members of the Kaua’i County Planning Commission to grant permits to build a 30-acre housing development in Hanama’ulu that is intended to help more local residents get into affordable housing.

The development proposal calls for the first homes to be finished in late 2007, with others coming on line in 2008 and beyond.

But before any action can be taken, commission members, meeting at the Lihu’e Civic Center, wanted a clearer picture of the traffic impact the Kohea Loa project will have on Lihu’e and Hanama’ulu, two of the largest population areas on the island.

Terry Snow of Wilbur Smith and Associates said a traffic study shows the project may generate an additional 30 vehicle trips during peak-traffic hours. That would translate to a maximum 6-percent increase over current traffic figures for the area, based on a 3-percent yearly growth rate, Snow said.

Commission Sandi Kato Klutke disagreed with that assessment, saying after the meeting, “Six percent is about 30 cars, and I say ‘no way,’ because they are looking at establishing it for younger families.”

The designated school for many children in Wailua House-lots and part of Wailua Homesteads is King Kaumuali’i Elementary School in Hanama’ulu, and the traffic congestion in Hanama’ulu will only get worse with parents driving them to that school, she said.

The commissioners asked Snow to provide updated figures at the March 28 meeting of the commission, and continued the public hearing on a request for permits necessary to develop housing in an area bounded by Kuhio Highway and Kapule Highway known as the Hanama’ulu triangle.

Tracy S. Nagata, director of community planning for the Hawai’i division of D.R. Horton – Schuler Division, said a traffic increase is a given “no matter what type of development you put there.”

Mitigation measures, however, will be implemented, she said after the meeting.

During a public hearing on the proposal Tuesday, commission members reviewed a request for permits from the developer to build 293 single-family detached and single-family attached and multi-family units on the parcel located north of King Kaumuali’i Elementary School.

The project would be built in three phases, on around 30 acres.

Kaua’i County Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura has said she welcomes the project, partly because its focus is unique: it will be the first mixed-income project on the island, providing market-price housing and affordably-priced housing for Kauaians.

The lowest-priced condominiums, to be built in the first phase, will run about $174,000, for instance. The most-expensive, single-family home, to be built in a fourth phase, will run about $550,000, based on today’s prices.

Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste has advanced efforts for the development of several hundred affordable-housing units on private and public lands over several years.

He has said that projects like the Kohea Loa project will help prevent the displacement of members of local families from Kaua’i.

Many local residents have been boxed out of the high-priced housing market, a trend that has spanned the past five years but is not tapering off, county officials said. Affordably-priced homes are still hard to find, officials have said.

Leaders with D.R. Horton – Schuler Division are seeking permits to initially build the 293 dwelling units on the 30-acre site.

The developer also plans to build out another 151 units on an adjoining 30 acres, according to Michael T. Jones, division president of D.R. Horton. The developer will be seeking subdivision approval on this fourth parcel from county leaders, Jones said.

Of the 444 units to be developed on all four parcels, 178 units, or about 40 percent, will be set aside for affordable-housing purposes, Nagata said.

The affordable-housing requirement is tied to a county zoning ordinance that applies to a master plan leaders with the former Amfac/JMB had developed for lands in East Kaua’i.

Visionary LLC leaders, doing business as Lihue Land Company, bought the 60 acres, and sold the land to officials with D.R. Horton last September.

Each of the three projects would be subject to a condominium-property-regime (CPR) format, which would involve open spaces and common areas, according to a Kaua’i County Planning Department report.

The first phase, which would occupy 3.8 acres, would consist of 72 multi-family units in eight buildings.

The two-bedroom, three-bed-room units would range from 843 square feet to 1,300 square feet, excluding garages and lanais.

The project would include 152 paved parking stalls, of which 48 would have carport structures, and eight guest stalls.

The first phase also would include a loading area, clustered mailboxes, and trash enclosures to be built within a parking lot.

Sales of the units are anticipated to start in the latter part of 2007.

The second phase, which encompasses about 10 acres, would contain 83 single-family units, ranging between 1,141 to 1,288 square feet, excluding garage and lanais.

A total of 166 resident parking spaces and 12 guest spaces would be built. Forty carports, five trash receptacles and cluster mailboxes would be located in the parking areas.

The sale of the units in the second phase is scheduled to start in early 2008.

Phase three of the project, which encompasses 16 acres, would involve the construction of 138 units in a mix of four-plex, multi-family townhouses, single-family-attached and single-family-detached dwellings, each with fenced yards, and some with attached garages.

Plans call for the development of 276 resident parking stalls and 20 guest stalls.

Forty-nine carports, 11 trash receptacles and clustered mail-boxes will be located in parking lots, according to a county Planning Department report.

The developer is proposing to build all the residential structures as two-story buildings, to be consistent with existing homes in Hanama’ulu.

Because the developers are allowed to build out density in the first phase to 95 percent, according to county planners, they are seeking a variance permit to exceed the allowable lot coverage of 50 percent in the residential district by 10 percent, for a total lot coverage of 60 percent.

On the issue of parking, commissioner Kato Klutke said members of many households on Kaua’i have more than two vehicles, and wondered whether the project can accommodate the parking needs of new buyers or renters.

Jones said getting residents to come to grips with the parking restrictions at the project will come down to a matter of public education.

“With people always, it seems, buying more and more cars (is a reality). And so if they are going to buy into a condominium community, they should understand that they are going to get two parking stalls (per unit), and there is going to be a certain number of guest (parking) stalls,” Jones said after the meeting.

“They can make a decision to live there, or they don’t have to live there.” Nagata said the developer is not required by any county law or rule to put in the guest stalls, but is doing so in accordance with Honolulu development standards.

On another note, commissioners expressed concerns about plans by the developer to put in only one bus stop for a project that is targeted for families.

The single bus stop would be centrally located on a main road that is immediately adjacent to the three-phased, 30-acre site that is planned, Nagata said.

At most, children living in a home in the first phase, located on the northern edge of the 30-acre parcel, would have to walk only five minutes, or a quarter mile, to reach the bus stop, Nagata said.

Kato Klutke said that walk is too long, and recommended more bus stops be built within the project, a suggestion Nagata said could be looked at.

In the area of recreation, Commissioner Imai Aiu said the boundaries of Lihu’e and Hanama’ulu, as part of good government planning, should be delineated, and he wants to make sure families moving into the new project will have access to recreational areas.

Aiu said residents, for instance, had free access to Kalepa Ridge and surrounding cane fields around Hanama’ulu when plantation companies operated.

But access to the mountains and ocean is no longer a guarantee with the passing of the sugar industry and former cane land placed under newer ownership, Aiu said.

“It behooves the county to look at working to keep access to those areas we always could go to, but may no longer do so because of the way new property rights work, and liability works,” Aiu said after the meeting.

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