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Saturday, January 13, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs Jan. 12, 2024

New Punalu'u plans would put accommodations about a quarter mile from the shoreline.
Illustration from Black Sand Beach, LLC

DEVELOPMENT PLANS FOR LANDS NEAR PUNALU'U BLACK SAND BEACH are submitted to the county Planning Department and will go before the Windward Planning Commission to consider approval of a Special Management Area permit. The major SMA permit would be required for the Black Sand Beach, LLC applicants to take next steps. A public hearing is expected sometime in March. A sign has been placed along Hwy 11 at the Nīnole Loop intersection.

New entities closest to the beach would include a Fish Market & Seafood Restaurant, along with an Open Market on the mauka side of the street where Nīnole Loop and Punalu'u Road meet. Illustration from Black Sand Beach, LLC

The old museum and restaurant area would have a Tour Bus Drop-Off/Pick Up Area, Lua'u and Wedding venues.
Illustration from Black Sand Beach, LLC
Old Aspen Institute area would have 30 cabins and restored meeting and event spaces. Illustration from Black Sand Beach, LLC
    Called Punalu'u Village, the project would include far fewer accommodations than proposed by earlier developers who planned for more 
than 1,500 units at Punalu'u. This project is set back about a quarter mile from the coast, with most of the 223 units near the existing Colony One condominiums. A line of 63 Colony Two condos would be mauka of Colony One. Another concentration of accommodations would be around the old tennis courts. That section would include a Wellness Center with 80 rooms and another associated 50 condos, all surrounding shallow ponds that would be created there. The units would be 2.5 stories high. Another 30 cabins would be build around the old Aspen Center with its meeting and performance spaces that are being restored.
     During a zoom call meeting with The Kaʻū Calendar newspaper on Thursday, landowner owner Eva Liu, architect Norman Quon, and planning consultant Daryn Arai noted that these units would be set well back from the coast behind the golf fairway and stone church on the bluff above Punalu'u Beach Park.
    Development closest to the coast would be across from the Pond by the Black Sand Beach. It would be on the mauka side, near the place where Punalu'u Road and Nīnole Loop join along the curve. Plans for that area include a Fish Market Seafood Restaurant & Information Center, public restrooms and Open Market, with parking access from both Nīnole Loop and Punalu'u Road.
    The recently reopened parking lot near the beach and former museum and restaurant area are shown on the plan with a Main Entry & Tour Bus Drop-Off/Pick-Up Area, Visitor Welcome Center in renovated former restaurant hale, Artisan Garden Hale for Art Displays and/or relaxation, a renovated Art & Cultural Museum, a Multi-Purpose Event, Lawn/Lua'u area for special private and community events and a Wedding Ceremony Area.The owner, planner and architect also noted that many of the lands in the project area that are zoned commercial, multifamily and retail have been left open in the plan. An earlier proposal called for glamping (high-end camping) near the ponds at Nīnole but those plans have been abandoned. The development team said that land along the coast at Nīnole will remain in its natural state. It is zoned conservation and they said that a past developer had planned to extend the golf course to the coast at Nīnole with an oceanside green - golf courses are allowed on conservation land.
    The new plan leaves areas along Nīnole coast for wildlife, cultural practices, and open space. There has been some consideration of selling it to the county through its PONC Public Access, Open Space & Natural Resources Preservation Fund, but any transfer of land or conservation easement has yet to be finalized, said the Black Sand Beach, LLC planning team.
    They also said that the nearby Golf Clubhouse would be restored.
    A summary of the proposal submitted to the Planning Department reviews the history of the place: "The original Sea Mountain at Punalu'u Resort was developed by C. Brewer in the early 1970's on 434‐acres of land both below and above the Hawai'i Belt Road. Since that time, the resort was sold to various owners and has fallen into disrepair. In early 2020, Black Sand Beach LLC acquired the property and is focusing on establishing a recreational and wellness community on 325‐acres of makai (ocean‐side) portion of the property." It also describes the proposed Punaluʻu Village "as a residential and commercial community."
    See more in upcoming Kaʻū News Briefs.

Colony Two would be mauka of Colony One and would have 63 condominiums. Illustration from Black Sand Beach, LLC

Ryan Kanaka'ole named first deputy
of Department of Land & Natural Resources
RYAN KANAKA'OLE WHO HAS DEEP ROOTS IN KAʻŪ has been named first deputy of state Department of Land & Natural Resources. Kanaka'ole has family in Waiʻōhinu, connected with the Wong Yuen Store, and has been involved in the stewardship of the lands at Kawā that were purchased for preservation - owned by the county, and managed locally. He was director and interim chair for Na Mamo o Kawā.

    Gov. Josh Green, M.D. nominated the veteran government attorney to take the post of  Department of Land & Natural Resources first deputy, effective Tuesday, Jan. 16. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Hawai'i State Senate.
   Kanaka'ole is currently a Deputy Attorney General with the Dept. of the Attorney General, most recently serving as an attorney for Hawai'i Housing Finance & Development Corp. (HHFDC) and Mauna Kea Stewardship Oversight Authority. From 2017-2023 he served as deputy AG for Department of Hawaiian Homelands. He was appointed to the Public Land Trust Working Group due to his expertise on issues related to public land trust.
    "We are so fortunate to have someone with Ryan's deep understanding of state government operations, including those of the DLNR," Chair Dawn Chang said. "He will be instrumental in continuing to build relationships with stakeholders, lawmakers, and communities and fostering DLNR's conservation mission."
    He also was involved in audits of DLNR, University of Hawai'i, State Foundation of Culture & the Arts, Department of Transportation, Department of the Attorney General, Hawai'i Energy Office, and Department of Human Services (DHS).
    Kanaka'ole commented, "I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity from Governor Green and Chair Chang to continue serving Hawaiʻi by upholding the responsibilities entrusted to DLNR in safeguarding and nurturing our lands, waters, and culture for future generations."
    Kanaka'ole succeeds Laura Kaakua, who has accepted a new role working on Native Hawaiian Issues for the Dept. of Transportation. Reflecting on Kaakua's service to DLNR, Chang said, "Laura has served the department and the people of Hawai'i with passion and humility, especially in 'āina based communities. I am confident she will continue to build bridges, with her dedication and commitment, leading to better government and a more sustainable future."

Michelle Galimba

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com, in the mail and on stands.

A TOWN MEETING WITH COUNTY COUNCIL MEMBER MICHELLE GALIMBA will be held on Monday, Jan. 15 at 5 p.m. at Discovery Harbour Community Center. According to a statement from the Community Center, suggested topics from Discovery Harbour residents include lack of Animal Control Services at this end of the island and current and proposed rules that apply to short term vacation rentals "now that are being enforced."
    The statement says, "If you have questions, or would just like to attend to meet Michelle, we would love to have you attend. You will find her to be a very open person, that will answer your questions outright, or if she does not know the answer, she will respond to you in a vary timely manner. Please join us on the 15th."

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com, in the mail and on stands.

The Kaʻū Calendar newspaper, 5,000 in the mail.
2,500 on the streets.