Koa Ridge Un­der Fire By Sierra Club

MidWeek Islander (Central Oahu) - - Front Page -

BY STEVE MUR­RAY

Sierra Club of Hawaii has be­gun a ra­dio cam­paign to protest planned hous­ing at Koa Ridge, be­ing de­vel­oped by Cas­tle & Cooke.

The project will add 3,500 new res­i­den­tial units and 500,000 square feet of com­mer­cial space to an area ad­ja­cent to Cen­tral Oahu Re­gional Park. The com­mer­cial space will in­clude a com­mu­nity center, re­tail stores, restau­rants, a med­i­cal center and a 150-room ho­tel.

Ac­cord­ing to Sierra Club, Koa Ridge and other de­vel­op­ment planned for the area could lead to two-hour com­mutes from Mililani to Ala Moana and the de­struc­tion of valu­able farm­land.

The City Coun­cil Plan­ning Com­mit­tee gave pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval Sept. 12 to re­zon­ing the prop­erty. A sec­ond read and pub­lic hear­ing were held Oct. 9. A third read­ing must be held be­fore the Coun­cil can vote on the fi­nal ver­sion of the bill. The fi­nal vote has not yet been sched­uled.

“Polls con­sis­tently show that our mem­bers and the pub­lic at large rate farm­land preser­va­tion and traf­fic as two of their top po­lit­i­cal con­cerns,” said An­thony Aalto, Sierra Club Oahu Group chair­man. “We an­tic­i­pate this

huge project would lead to com­plete and ut­ter grid­lock on H2 and H1.”

As part of its de­sign, Cas­tle & Cooke will spend $100 mil­lion on traf­fic so­lu­tions, in­clud­ing im­prove­ments to the Wai­pio In­ter­change and con­struc­tion of a new H2 free­way in­ter­change at Pineap­ple Road Over­pass.

Bruce Bar­rett, Cas­tle & Cooke ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of res­i­den­tial op­er­a­tions, said the de­vel­op­ment may cre­ate a slight, un­in­tended rise in high­way traf­fic, but that the im­prove­ments will be suf­fi­cient to han­dle the flow in the im­me­di­ate area.

A sec­ond part of the plan, he said, is to cre­ate area jobs that will re­duce traf­fic head­ing to­ward Oahu’s ur­ban core.

“We project 2,300 full­time jobs once the com­mu­nity is built out. That’s a ra­tio of two jobs for ev­ery rooftop, and that’s part of smart growth plan­ning in terms of try­ing to cre­ate em­ploy­ment cen­ters to help off­set and mit­i­gate peo­ple just go­ing in one di­rec­tion.”

A vote in fa­vor of the de­vel­op­ment by the full Coun­cil likely will not re­sult in im­me­di­ate con­struc­tion. Sierra Club has filed an ap­peal with the In­ter­me­di­ate Court of Ap­peals to have the State Land Use Com­mis­sion over­turn its de­ci­sion to re­clas­sify the land.

The de­ci­sion is ex­pected to take eight months, with the case be­ing ap­pealed to the state Supreme Court no mat­ter who wins the ap­peal.

Kody Shishido has a great time on the Carousel Ride at Mililani Shop­ping Center. The late-sum­mer car­ni­val wel­comed fam­i­lies from all over with rides, games and other age-ap­pro­pri­ate fun. Photo by Lawrence Tabudlo, ltabudlo@mid­week.com.

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