Wednesday, January 10, 2001
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Posted on: Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Hawai'i Kai cemetery conditions set

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Bureau

Before the first shovel digs into the earth for the East Oahu Memorial Park in Kamilonui Valley, the developer will have to take steps to prevent flooding and ease traffic.

That’s the decision the City Council Zoning Committee made yesterday after listening to the concerns of nearly 30 people who testified for and against — mostly against — the 44,000-plot cemetery with 1,000 burial niches, a crematorium and mortuary.

The 69-acre site is off Hawaii Kai Drive behind Mariner’s Cove and is an area prone to landslides.

The committee recommended approval of the boundaries of the cemetery, setting the stage for a final vote Jan. 24 by the full City Council. Opponents, meanwhile, say they will continue to work against the proposal.

Upon approval of the boundaries by the full council, the developer, Kamval LLC, would apply for grading and building permits.

The developer would be required to have an engineer study the soil and traffic and come up with a plan that also must be approved by the city, according to the zoning committee resolution.

Yesterday, residents presented a petition with 815 signatures of people who oppose the cemetery, said Mel Aoki, a Hawaii Kai resident.

"We got those signatures before Christmas," Aoki said. "I feel If we had more time we would have gotten a couple thousand. A lot of people weren’t aware that a cemetery was being proposed."

Yet Michael John Moroney supports the idea of a cemetery in Hawaii Kai. He said the area is getting older and residents need a cemetery in the community.

Elizabeth Reilly, a Hawaii Kai resident, said she was opposed to any development in the valley.

"I’m not opposed to cemeteries," she said. "I just think it’s unsafe."

The developer will build a two-acre retention basin to capture water run-off during rain storms, said Keith Kurahashi, the developer’s planning consultant. When it’s not raining, the cemetery will tap into that basin for irrigation and for fire protection.

Prior to the Jan. 24 meeting, opponents will be regrouping and checking into previous soil studies, still hoping to influence the full council, said Tom Ishii, Mariner’s Cove Association president. He said he was not surprised by the committee’s decision and would be talking to other residents about what the next step was.

"I didn’t think we could stop it because of the way the resolution was written," Ishii said. "I really think it will be difficult to build up there. There are a lot of rocks up there."

Joe Leoni, Kamval LLC partner, said his firm will seek a joint venture with another cemetery developer because of costs.

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