The Sierra Club plans to step in and try to stop efforts to develop a 12,000-home, master-planned community on farmland in Kapolei.
The environmental advocacy organization has until Tuesday to file its application to intervene with the state Land Use Commission, and is currently awaiting “final internal approval to proceed,” according to Robert Harris, executive director of the Sierra Club.
The D.R. Horton-Schuler Division’s planned Hoopili development is ambitious. In addition to thousands of homes, it would include space for five schools and enough retail space to provide 7,000 local jobs. The company estimates that the project would also create about 27,000 jobs in the construction and consultation phase, according to its website.
While development plans aim to have the first homes available by 2013, the Sierra Club’s potential intervention could cause delays, or if the group has its way, derail the project.
The development would displace more than 1,500 acres of prime farmland, a point of major contention. The developer has filed a petition to rezone the ag land for urban development that, according to the Sierra Club, would “further undermine the security of our food supply and threaten aesthetic and environmental interests.”
The Sierra Club’s move comes on the heals of a significant victory on Tuesday against Castle & Cooke’s plans to develop a planned community of 5,000 homes between Waipio and Mililani. A Circuit Court judge ruled that the Koa Ridge project’s approval in October by the Land Use Commission was invalid.
Castle & Cooke is appealing the court’s jurisdiction over the case and a new hearing date has been set for Aug. 24. If the Sierra Club prevails, then Castle & Cooke would have to wait a year before filing a new application with the Land Use Commission, according to Harris.
Harry Saunders, president of Castle & Cooke Homes Hawaii and Castle & Cooke Resorts, did not return a call for comment.
As with the planned Hoopili development, the Sierra Club is opposed to attempts to reclassify hundreds of acres of agricultural lands for the Koa Ridge project.
“They are both large expanses of agricultural land, and a number of scientists and other officials are deeply concerned about how much ag land is left, particularly as we move towards greater sustainability,” said Harris. “They’re prime farmlands that have been commercially successful for decades at providing food and making a profit out of it.”
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