“Anybody who sees this would say, ‘Oh, my God! What are we doing?”
That comment came from Hawai`i County Council member Brenda Ford, who represents the South Kona area where the Planned Unit Development proposed for the ahupua`a of Waikaku`u would be built.
At the county Board of Appeals hearing on the application in April, Ford described her impressions of the property after having walked through the area to be developed with 13 two-acre lots.
“I went into the property, I walked it. I saw old-growth `ohi`a with a circumference of more than 20 feet. I understand from the Division of Forestry and Wildlife that these trees having a six-foot or more diameter will be 400 to 600 years old. One I saw was pushing 980 to 1,000 years old. These forests are in pristine condition and need to be maintained,” she testified.
In addition, Ford told the appeals board that a deep ravine cut through the area proposed for development. “I don’t know if anyone has discussed it, … but the cul de sac from which [the developer] wants to go in goes about 50 yards then hits a ravine, 100 to 150 feet across. You need a helicopter to get across it. It goes all the way up the mountain. It narrows at the top, but the only way the subdivision can be developed is to fill in the ravine.”
“It’s huge,” she continued. “If you dam this thing up and create the subdivision, you’ll dam waters uphill. If you do that, we’ll have massive mud and rock flow down that hill, which potentially could reach the highway… This is really a major concern.”
Ford then proposed what she called a “win-win” arrangement. “I was so impressed with this `ohi`a forest, with the indigenous plants and animals, I’m willing to submit these parcels to the Open Space Commission and request that the county buy them…. I can’t guarantee that this will pass the County Council or the Open Space Commission, but it is certainly worth a try.”
In her testimony, Patricia Missler suggested other preservation options, such as a sale to the state through its Legacy Land program or to The Nature Conservancy of Hawai`i.
“Would you be willing to use your energy and time to support such an option?” Matsukawa asked her.
“Yes,” she answered.
— Patricia Tummons
Volume 22, Number 11 June 2012