KEALIA — A proposed subdivision is one step closer to fruition in Kealia, after the Land Use Commission accepted the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement Thursday.
It was a process that entailed hours of cataloguing community comments and expert testimony from those involved in the EIS studies.
The commission’s back was against an Aug. 12 deadline— if they didn’t make a decision at this meeting, the EIS would have been approved automatically. The decision was unanimous to approve the EIS.
“I’m in favor of this,” Commissioner Arnold Wong said. “Public testimony has been dealing with the project, not the EIS itself. The petitioner has fulfilled its requirement.”
Approval of the EIS means the Kealia Mauka Homesites subdivision project is moving to the next step — the Land Use Commission hearing for their boundary amendment request.
Should Kealia Properties LLC be successful in their bid to change their 53 acres from the State Land Use Agricultural District to the State Urban District, then they can start meetings with the county on zoning laws.
Currently proposed action is to create lots that are 5,600 square feet to 7,300 square feet with associated utility infrastructure and roadways. Anticipated move-in date is around 2027 for the subdivision, which calls for 235 single-family house lots.
It’s a start on a long process that includes more community meetings — dates aren’t finalized — according to representatives of Kealia Properties.
“We are thrilled with the unanimous vote of the commission and we look forward to being part of the housing solution for our Kauai families,” said Moana Kinimaka, a Kealia Properties representative.
Not everyone in the audience of about 50 community members was in support of the project; several said after the meeting that community outreach wasn’t up to par during the process.
“Four days wasn’t enough notice for the community meeting,” said one resident, who refused to give his name. “They didn’t give us enough time.”
Another resident, who also asked to remain anonymous, graded the EIS at a C- or a D+ and said more research should have been done about how the project will impact hunting in the area.
Rayne Regush of the Wailua-Kapaa Neighborhood Association pointed out as inconsistencies in the FEIS ranging from the size of the petition area, a lack of transparency, and incongruences with the general plan.
“This proposal falls short of its intent to help satisfy the county’s need for affordable housing,” Regush said in statement about the project. “Although claiming to be aimed at local families, these lots will be sold at market value.”
Impacts on traffic are also a concern for many. The FEIS suggests mitigation by a roundabout option or through the installation of a traffic signal at the Kealia Road and Kuhio Highway intersection.
County Planning Director Ka’aina Hull said “the project is consistent with the General Plan.”
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at firstname.lastname@example.org