PUNA COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN INDEPENDENT GROUP
REPORT OF RECOMMENDATIONS
INTRODUCTION & EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Our independent group took on the challenge of identifying and recommending macro-issues. We initially focused and addressed the need to create alternate roads as there is currently only a single Hilo to Keaau, Keaau to Pahoa, and Keaau to Volcano corridors with the exception of the Puna Emergency Access Road (PEAR) and the community is vulnerable if a corridor is blocked.
TRANSPORTATION CORRIDOR RECOMMENDATIONS
Two roads: "Modified Puna Makai Alternate Road (Modified PMAR)" and "Kulani-to-Upper Hilo" fill this need. Neither goes through the larger private subdivisions. "Phase II" Hawaiian Paradise Park (HPP) recommended solution includes connector and collector roads between Modified PMAR to HPP to hook up to a number of roads. This will reduce traffic on each of their roads and allow the roads to remain private with no additional easements or condemnations necessary.
There are three Orchidland - Modified PMAR options: 1) Connect only 40th with the road to stay private. This has the lowest cost, least objection, but smallest capacity. 2) Obtain a wide easement under eminent domain to acquire one acre from each of the 3-acre lots between 39th and 40th, create a large-scale divided County 55 -mph "Orchidland Parkway" to be a major alternate road for Keaau-Pahoa Highway 130, and connecting to the proposed Pahoa Community, Business, and Industrial Park. Or, 3) A similar "Hawaiian Acres-Orchidland Parkway" but located on the boundary of the two subdivisions. This is the best option as each subdivision will be able to hook up to create a good grid and could lead to a series of Puna Mauka Alternate Roads.
If the concept of the "Hawaiian Acres-Orchidland Parkway" is adopted, a future "Fern Acres-Hawaiian Acres Parkway" should also be considered and this would have connections to Volcano Highway and Kulani-to-Upper Hilo. Farther into the future, it would be appropriate to create a "Volcano Village-to-Upper Hilo Alternate Road incorporating Kulani-to-Upper Hilo. If the recommended Pahoa Community, Business, and Industrial Park becomes viable, it would be appropriate to create a "Kahaualea-Wao Kele o Puna Parkway" connecting Volcano Village in the forest reserve south of the major Puna mauka subdivisions. These roads constitute a Puna Road Master Plan.
DESIGNATION OF URBAN EXPANSION & COMMERCIAL-INDUSTRIAL ZONING ON PERCAPITA PARITY WITH HILO
Professionals advise understanding the nature of the traffic, where the traffic is going, and why. Puna is the fastest growing district in the State of Hawaii and in the very near future will equal Hilo's population and will eventually become several times the size of Hilo. This growth is fuelled by inexpensive house lots. Puna has amongst the lowest per capita income in the State and commutes to Hilo for jobs, services, and shopping. This daily commute to Hilo results in high transportation costs, non-productive time wasted, and degrading of lifestyle. We need to address how to build a stronger economy and a sustainable future.
PUNA LAND USE RECOMMENDATION: Immediately identify and designate an additional 2,500 acres of land for urban expansion and commercial-industrial zoning to serve as the basis for planned Puna growth! As Puna continues to grow, designate additional land to maintain Puna commercial-industrial zoning per capita parity with Hilo.
There are two large easily identifiable areas. A second Keaau Business Park adjoining the site of the former Puna Sugar Mill will move jobs closer to Puna. This is compatible with the Shipman Keaau Master Plan which has basic infrastructure and has begun the "infill" implementation stage to create "Keaau Village" and "Keaau Regional Center."
The "neighborhood village" policy is too little-too late and it should become Hawaii County policy to encourage and assist in the creation of a 500-1,000 acre Pahoa Community, Business, and Industrial Park. The ideal location is on State of Hawaii land mauka of Pahoa Town and this is consistent with Governor Lingle's emphasis on creating new economic infrastructure for future jobs.
Currently, there is pressure to create spot zoning or special use permits simply because there are insufficient urban expansion areas. This will result in undesirable strip malls. The State of Hawaii and the County of Hawaii should be leading with good planning rather than proposing that the County create facilities utilizing non-conforming use of agriculturally-zoned land. It is essential to set the example.
Regional facilities could include major recreational parks, pubic safety police and fire, medical services and facilities, youth and elderly centers, etc. Construction base yards could be clustered in one section, business and services in another, and retail-shopping in another. Once these are located in Pahoa, there would be far less need to travel to Hilo and this will have a major positive influence in being able to resolve the traffic problems. If corridors and commercial activities are concentrated it will make efficient mass transit solutions more viable and prevent the development of strip malls. If the concentrated commercial activities are heavily green-belted, we preserve our rural and agricultural character while creating jobs.
There may be an opportunity for the Pahoa Business Park businesses that use large amounts of either heat or electricity due to proximity to Puna Geothermal Ventures (PGV). They began with strong promise but were initially not able to produce electricity dependably and the Big Island suffered a prolonged series of rolling blackouts. The electric company was forced to build additional capacity and now that PGV believes it has resolved their problems and wants to increase production, there is an over-supply of electricity generating capacity. A business park in the geothermal zone may not be prudent. But supplying heat or electricity at special rates may be a viable feature to attract businesses to the park.
In HPP and other subdivisions, parcels have been set aside for commercial activities but implementation has stalled due to the lack of infrastructure. While neighborhood villages may one day provide needed shopping and services, if they are the only Puna commercial activity they will not produce the quantity and type of higher paying jobs needed to reverse the daily commute to Hilo. Appropriate commercial-industrial property should be designated in every community to allow for the creation of village centers with allowance for green-belting, mass transit, community centers, economic development, and governmental services.
RECOMMENDATION UNIFORM PRIVATE SUBDIVISION POLICY
That the Mayor and County Council create a task force or commission to establish policy, priorities, and protocols for the spending of public funds to assist and create win-win solutions in cooperation with the associations of private subdivisions. We need a better plan to help the subdivisions that want improvements while respecting those that don't want any changes.
Sincerely & respectfully submitted,
~~~ David W. Fukumoto, president
February 11, 2007
17-586 Olaa Road (PO Box 6000), Kurtistown, Hawaii 96760
Phone (808) 966-7668 Email: email@example.com
Attached: Hilo-Puna Alternate Roads
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