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Another hurdle has been cleared for major development in the Ewa plain.
It’s not exactly a done deal, but the Honolulu City Council is moving forward plans for big changes and raising concerns for residents.
To some, the Ewa plain is prime development land. To others, it is the last frontier for agriculture.
Bill 65, which will provide a roadmap for the future of the area, was approved unanimously Wednesday by the Honolulu City Council.
Councilmembers, for the most part, said there is room for both development and agriculture.
“I think people need to know too that Hoopili could start building if it’s zoned so. And then stop. And we could still save some ag land if that is what the people want to do,” City Councilmember Kymberly Pine said.
Arguments against it sound all to familiar.
“Well, what I heard from the opponents of the bill were basically the loss of ag land, the negative traffic impacts. I guess those were the two most consistent themes from the people in opposition,” Department of Planning and Permitting Director George Atta said.
Supporters of the planning guideline suggest as many as 100,000 jobs could be generated over the years if the Hoopili development of homes and commercial space is allowed to continue.
But planners emphasize this is just a first step in the process.
“And it’s supposed to send a signal to developers. Here’s where the Council would encourage you to develop and here’s where the Council would strongly discourage you from developing. So, it has real value as a sort of stage in the conversation,” said Bob Stanfield, with the Department of Planning and Permitting.
Stanfield emphasized that all stakeholders will be involved in the final decision on an Ewa plan, with public hearings and discussion about all the projects involved.