Plans to start noni farm and build farm houses in Mokuleia

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A landowner in Mokuleia wants to start a noni farm, and build some farm houses.

But a big change has to happen before the building and planting can get underway.

The land needs to get rezoned. And there’s a bill moving through the Honolulu City Council to do just that.

The beach front property was once part of Mokuleia Ranch’s grazing lands.

The current landowner Kealia Farms, LLC bought the property in 2012, which includes two parcels totaling 13.1 acres.

It’s located next to Mokuleia Army Beach and across of Dillingham Airfield.

Kealia Farms, LLC wants the area rezoned from the P-2 General Preservation District to the AG-1 Restricted Agricultural District.

“What they want to do is have their families reside on the property in farm dwellings,” Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson.

The current P-2 zoning allows farming but not farm dwellings.

Kealia Farms, LLC also intends to start a noni farm on the property.

Noni is grown commercially in Hawaii mainly on the Big Island. Pu’u’ala Farms and Ranch on the Hamakua Coast grows approximately three acres of noni.

It’s a fruit known for its health benefits.

“It’s a great source of vitamin C and anti-oxidants. It’s high in potassium and definitely great nutritional supplement, helps with energy, fluid balance in the body,” Pu’u’ala Farms and Ranch Manager David Fiorillo.

Kealia Farms, LLC decided to go with noni after talking with an agriculture expert at the University of Hawaii, experimenting with sample crops, and finding a company willing to buy all the fruit.

The fruit is made into juice.

“And that is a fermentation process, similar to soybeans, like if you took soybeans and you put it into a bucket you’d get juice. And that would be same thing with noni,” Fiorillo said.

After reviewing the request, the City Department of Planning and Permitting is recommending the proposed zoning change.

And now, the decision is in the hands of the Honolulu City Council.

Bill 49 passed first reading last week.

“Although there will be farm dwellings which are farmhouses with the farm, it’ll actually keep intact the current ruralness and it also preserves the rural character of the area,” Anderson said.

So far there’s been only three written testimony submitted — two from North Shore Neighborhood Board members, and one from the Mokuleia Community Association President — all in support of the bill.

The bill will be heard by the Committee on Zoning and Planning next week Thursday, Aug. 22, starting at 9 a.m. at Honolulu Hale.

That’s when the Council members will get to ask the landowner and DPP questions, and listen to public testimony.

Link to Bill 49: http://www4.honolulu.gov/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-141220/BILL049(13).htm

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