Sunday, February 11, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, February 11, 2001

Mililani schools 'maxed out'

By James Gonser
Advertiser Leeward Bureau

MILILANI MAUKA — A plan by Castle & Cooke Homes Hawaii to add hundreds of homes in Mililani Mauka has raised community questions about the impact on schools.

Phase 3 of Castle & Cookes Mililani Mauka development would add 522 single-family homes and 304 multi-family homes in Central Oahu by 2008. The development is targeted for a 104-acre parcel at the end of Koolani Drive.

"We are already maxed out," said Mililani Mauka/Launani Valley Neighborhood Board chairman Roy Doi. "The question is with all those people coming in, now what is going to happen?"

A second elementary school is already planned for Mililani Mauka, but Doi said that school will be filled by the families already living in the area.

"We already need that school without the Phase 3 project," Doi said.

Crowding has become an issue in the fast-growing communities of Central and Leeward Oahu, where development has at times stretched the ability of schools to accommodate incoming students.

Crowding in two Makakilo elementary schools prompted the Department of Education to redraw school boundaries last month, sending students from Mauka Lani and Makakilo elementaries to under-utilized Barbers Point Elementary.

Castle & Cooke has filed a draft environmental assessment with the state Office of Environmental Quality Control detailing the project. The public has until March 10 to comment.

Doi said Castle & Cooke representatives had planned to give a presentation on the project at the board’s Jan. 16 meeting, but then asked to reschedule.

The board will meet again Feb. 19, but Castle & Cooke asked to be placed on the March 20 meeting agenda, after the March 10 public comment deadline.

Doi said the community may want to file written comments and hopes the deadline will be extended until after the presentation at the March meeting.

Eugene Takahashi, with city Department of Planning and Permitting, said Phase 3 was originally planned as part of the first round of development in Mililani Mauka.

Takahashi said Castle & Cooke will need an amendment to the development plan land-use map and a zoning change from public facility to residential and low-density apartment to move forward with the project.

Allan Arakawa, Castle & Cooke’s spokesman for the project, was in meetings all day Thursday and Friday and could not be reached for comment. Project consultant Keith Kurahashi was on the Mainland and also could not be reached.

The site at the end of Koolani Drive had been set aside for a University of Hawaii, West Oahu campus, but the university rejected the location years ago, setting its sights on a Kapolei property. The site is now being used for a tree nursery, and according to the assessment, traffic to new homes will have less impact than had been expected for the university.

In the 1987 final Environmental Impact Statement for Mililani Mauka in its entirety, 6,640 homes on 3,500 acres for up to 21,000 people were planned.

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