Developer finds land for displaced farmers – Hawaii News – Starbulletin.com

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A developer who hopes to build 3,500 homes makai of the H-2 freeway says farmers working on the land have found another place to plant.

Bruce Barrett, executive vice president of residential operations for Castle & Cooke Hawaii, said the farmers will have an equivalent piece of land and could seek more with the landowner, Dole.

Castle & Cooke is trying to address several impacts arising from its planned community, called Koa Ridge, including the displacement of farmers.

The developer will appear before the Land Use Commission on Thursday as part of the ongoing process to receive a permit converting agricultural land to urban land.

The developer addressed some concerns about its project at a community forum on Wednesday sponsored by the Mililani Neighborhood Board and the Sierra Club.

Those two groups are intervenors against the petition, which would allow the developer to build the homes and 500,000 square feet of commercial development.

The neighborhood board plans to support the development if the Land Use Commission imposes conditions on the developer that address traffic, education, affordable housing and other impacts on the community.

The Sierra Club, however, opposes the project because it displaces farming businesses and destroys agricultural land for more homes.

Robert Harris, director of the Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter, said the organization is seeking a moratorium against development on prime agricultural land.

He said the developer’s proposal would use 5 percent of the remaining agricultural land on Oahu.

"To pave that over is almost criminal," he said, noting that 80 to 90 percent of food is imported to Hawaii.

The Sierra Club believes developers should focus on rebuilding older communities, such as Moiliili, instead of new developments on agricultural land.

Barrett said the company is working to address concerns and has addressed issues such as traffic with new interchanges.

"A new planned community like Koa Ridge does have impacts," he said. "What we’re doing is we’re addressing those impacts in terms of commitments."

Developer finds land for displaced farmers – Hawaii News – Starbulletin.com

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