Project IV is a strip of land that spans Kohala Ranch at the middle elevations and comprises about a third of the total acreage of the Ranch. In April of 1992, the County passed Zoning Ordinance 92-40 making all of Project IV urban, with a potential 528 condos, 962 single-family dwelling units and a 17.7-acre commercial area (25-acres according to the developer).
Kohala Ranch Road - which does not meet standards for dedication to the County even as an agricultural road - would be the sole access.
The project was tied up in a lawsuit until early in 2000. By that time, developer KJV had already signed a agreement to sell all its interests to Bob Acree, long-time owner of two lots at Kohala Ranch.
For approximately six million dollars, Acree got 96 lots ready to market in Projects I-III, approximately 1400 undeveloped acres in Project IV with zoning in place, the water company, and some properties in neighboring Kohala Estates. (Kohala Ranch was conceived of as Kohala Estates Phase II.) The deal closed shortly thereafter.
We believe the rezoning should not even be in effect, because one of the conditions of zoning was not met in the way that was required by the County Council. But that's history.
The zoning classification actually allows more than the 1490 units proposed, but the project was limited to that number by one of the imposed conditions. This means that if the developer can get the County to change that one condition, even more units could be created without a new zoning action having to be initiated, along with its notification requirements.
Bob Acree came in declaring that things would be different, that he was thinking of scaling back the project, and that he welcomed input from the community. He proposed a community meeting, which we offered to help organize.
But as time went by and Acree became less responsive, with no get-together in sight, the residents went ahead and held a couple of meetings of their own. They came up with an alternate proposal calling for density only slightly higher than the rest of the Ranch. Projects I, II and III have 478 lots. Project IV comprises about half as much area, so comparable density would be some 239 units. The residents proposed 300.
The group also asked for no more than an acre or two of shopping area, which would not be open to the public, and an impartial water study, to be conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey under the auspices of a public agency such as the State Commission on Water Resource Development.
After that there was an attempt by Acree to change to a more flexible zoning - and, coincidentally, millions of dollars less in impact fees to pay. When the State Land Use Commission warned him that he should start involving the community in planning, he attempted to placate them by holding a couple of PR meerings and cutting the proposed density by 20%.
But he was subsequently able to get the County to cut millions of dollars in impact fees, without the new zoning. For whatever reason, he dropped the new application...and the 20% cut in density.
Everything was back where it had been in 1992, except that the only real public benefit of the project - money for a significant amout of affordable housing at nearby Hawaiian Homes, or elsewhere in the region - had been eliminated to a large extent.
We had not opposed the application, per se, but we made the point that since the main benefit of the project had been cut way back, so should the density. But the County turned a deaf ear.
We believe Acree has been looking, from the beginning, for a buyer or joint venture partner, and wanted to have as much to offer a new developer as possible. He got one company to take a look, but after due diligence, they declined.
Meanwhile, Acree has started creating small residential subdivisions in Project IV on his own. Heathers II was completed in 2005, with 41 lots, mostly in the range of 2/3 of an acre to over an acre. Heathers III, with 47 lots on roughly 74 acres, is next.
In 2005, Acree got the Association directors to enter into an agreement to excuse him from paying dues on his Heathers II lots for two years, in exchange for his paying the maintenance costs in that subdivision - most of which he was paying to the water company, which he owns - and not voting the lots in Association elections. This is an illegal contract under the CC&Rs.
The agreement expired in the fall of 2007, but we face the possibility, after the real estate market recovers, that Acree, or whoever the developer may be in the future, can keep giving himself new chunks of votes in the Association by annexing additional Project IV subdivisions. For a discussion of the possible ramifications of this, use the ANNEXATION link in the sidebar above.
With sales stalled, Acree said at a town hall meeting on 2/17/07 that he was working on a proposal to give the Association a lot in Project IV if we would build a community center on it. He gave no details of what kind of deal this might be, other than that he would front the construction costs, and we would reimburse him.
We believe the idea has had other permutations since then, but nothing has been made public about it in recent months. If and when it comes up again, we need to be sure that the property owners are involved in the discussions as early as possible, and that they are not locked into any deal that does not benefit them.
Traffic and security have always been major concerns vis-a-vis Project IV. A lot of ubran traffic through the agricultural portions of the Ranch is not consistent with the secure, peaceful, relaxed Ranch ambience that was advertised.
If there is to be a shopping center and golf course, it's possible that members of the public will be allowed in, in order to make the facilities more viable financially, and the Board may not be able to prevent that.
In 2006, the Board earmarked money for an additional entry lane and gate at the bottom of the Ranch. This would clearly represent a capital improvement and, since it would exceed 5% of the operational budget, it should therefore trigger a vote of the members.
Some Board members tried to circumvent this, however, by claiming that it was not a capital improvement and therefore could come out of the road reserves - which are supposed to cover repair and maintenance only.
We argued against this, since we believed the need for a new lane had been greatly exaggerated, and most of the residents seemed to agree. The need will be even less with the mailboxes gone from the entrance, and access to that lane improved. Fortunately, the Board appears to have dropped the idea.
If Project IV is built out to the maximum allowed, it will account for about 75% of the residential, and all of the commercial, traffic. So it makes sense to wait until more of the units there have been created, so they can share the expenses of the expansion.
It would also make sense to open a third controlled access into the Ranch through neighboring Kohala Estates. The road already exists, and connects with Kohala Ranch Road in Project IV, with a locked gate between the two subdivisions. The portion of the road in Kohala Estates belongs to Acree, but Zoning Ordiance 92-40, which made Project IV urban, specifies that it cannot be used for access to Kohala Ranch unless owners of 50% of the property in Kohala Estates approve, or the road is dedicated to the County and the County allows it to be used for that purpose.
Dedication to the County would require upgrading, but that will have to be done at some point anyway, unless the road is to be abandoned and Kohala Estates owners left in the lurch. If the public is to be allowed in to use the golf course or commercial area, it could be via that road, with outsiders allowed to drive no further into the Ranch than a parking lot near the facilities (except, of course, in case of emergencies).
The water situation is also very troubling. We believe that future demand from Projects I, II and III, plus the neighboring subdivisions which use Kohala Ranch water, could account for the entire amount of water which is available...without any Project IV at all! Yet no provision has been made for increasing the supply.
For more information on that, use the link to WATER ISSUES in the sidebar above.
In April of 2009, we raised the issue Kohala Ranch Park, which was required by the Project IV zoning ordinance. We raised this issue at one of the Annual Meetings, but no one picked up on it. So we raised it more forcefully in our April 2009 newsletter.
We were tired of be continually told how generous Bob Acree is to let the Association use the Polo Field for its meetings and socials. The Polo Field is the 5-acre park that the County required, and according to the plan that Bob Acree submitted, it was supposed to be open in February of 2004.
The park is mainly to serve Project IV owners and their guests, but was to be made available to the rest of us "on a space available basis". Since there was no one living in Project IV and only 41 of a possible 1490 lots/condos had even been created, there was no excuse not to have the park open for all owners and their guests during daylight hours and for evening events, as the plan had promised.
It's ironic that Acree is the one who doesn't have a clear right to use the park in the way he's using it - for his commercial offices and storage. We don't propose that he - or the maintenance company he and the Association both employ - be evicted any time soon. In fact, we propose that we share the maintenance expenses. We also proposed a community forum to discuss park issues. As of this writing, it remains to be seen what wil happen.
Project IV issues that will need to be resolved in the future have to do mainly with how the urban area and the argicultural portions of the Ranch will relate to each other.