ELEELE — An affordable housing project that may provide the community with 550 residential units will be on the table at a Land Use Commission meeting later this month.
The county of Kauai is petitioning for a land use district boundary amendment, which if approved by the LUC, will change the 75-acre parcel from a State Land Use Agricultural Land District to a State Land Use Urban district.
Since the proposed project would include development of more than 15 acres of land within the Agricultural District, as defined by the LUC, a petition is necessary, according to the project’s environmental assessment.
Members of the LUC visited the parcel Tuesday and were briefed on Lima Ola Workforce Housing Project’s start date, intersection improvements, a proposed regional park, wastewater plan and concerns regarding overflow of a reservoir near the site.
“Considering everything goes well, we would like to commence infrastructure in 2018 and we anticipate an 18- to 20-month build out,” said Kanani Fu, County of Kauai housing director. “For the actual homes, conservatively, we’re looking at 2019 for phase one.”
However, after the first homes are built, it will take another five to seven years for the the completion of phase one, according to county officials. Phase one would add 149 units of 38 single-family and 111 multi-family units.
Funding secured for phase one totaled $20.3 million in sponsor equity, according to the Lima Ola 201H exemption application. In 2010, the county purchased the site for $2.5 million.
In 2016, the project received $16 million from the Legislature.
The development would include single-family, multi-family units, as well as units for seniors.
Because the project is to provide residents with affordable housing, households earning from 80 percent to below 140 percent area median income may be able to purchase homes.
The majority of units — 385 — are for households in the 80 percent median income category.
In the 80-percent AMI, a household of four would have to have an income of $68,250, according to the County of Kauai 2017 annual income limits.
That may change over time, Fu said.
“Based upon the types of funds that we used to do the vertical construction, that dictates the affordables we gotta serve. If we use low-income housing tax credit, we are required to serve 60 percent AMI,” she said. “Who we build homes for cannot be decided now. It comes at the time when we go after financing for the vertical construction.”
Ken Taylor, a Kapahi resident who attended the site visit, said the Lihue area would have been a better place to build affordable housing.
“Look at this area out here. There’s very few jobs. Why would you put affordable housing out here where there’s no jobs?” he said. “This is just a prime example of urban sprawling. It’s really sad. Before you know it, the coffee field will all be gone and we’ll be growing houses.”
The county said it has put 300 homes in Lihue and 100 in Poipu in the past decade and has not created a housing project on the Westside.
As far as employment on that side of the island, the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai Coffee landscaping companies and KIUC employ over 1,400 workers.
The last housing project on the Westside sponsored by the county was the Eleele Nani Subdivision consisting of 96 units and built in 1993.
Sacrificing ag land to make room for homes is another county mistake, Taylor added.
The majority of the parcel is on land utilized by Kauai Coffee. The parcel is less than 3 percent of Kauai Coffee’s available farm land. County officials say, however, the varietal of coffee on the development site will be grown at an alternative location.
“There’s plenty of room for affordable housing without taking out ag land,” Taylor said.
Taylor added the development will cause traffic issues.
Fu said the development will actually improve conditions, such as a signalized intersection and pedestrian crosswalk at the intersection of Mahea Road, Kaumualii Highway and Laulea Street.
A bus stop will be added by the intersection.
The project would be built in four phases may take over 20-plus years to complete, Fu said.
Lima Ola will utilize the Eleele wastewater treatment facility.
“At full build out, if no other development were to come online, the treatment is at 80 percent capacity,” Fu said. “The county, in response to this development, are required to expand its treatment center when population requires it.”
Overflow of the Kapa Reservoir, adjacent to Hanapepe, was a concern brought to LUC members.
With a 16 million gallon capacity, the Kauai Coffee-owned reservoir averages about 8 million gallons a day.
Though it doesn’t have a spillway, the reservoir does overflow once it reaches capacity, officials said.
Water would go under the roadway and back down the valley.
A Land Use Commission hearing regarding the project in tentatively scheduled for June 28 and 29.