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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, November 1, 2006

'Aina Haina cluster housing project denied

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Writer

'AINA HAINA A developer who had his plan denied by the city to build a cluster housing project on a steep slope in East Honolulu has vowed to revise his plans and submit another proposal to the city.

Kent Untermann of L&K Investments wants to build a 15-unit cluster housing project on the slope above 'Aina Haina Elementary School in a 40-year-old community of single-family homes. Two of the three buildings on the 3.3-acre site would be 34 feet high, according to the original plans that the city rejected. Plans also had called for 15 units, two three-story buildings with six units each and one two-story building with three condominium townhomes. A recreation building also was proposed.

The community, however, raised concerns about the project and its impact in the homes already there. In denying the project, the city agreed with many of the community's concerns of traffic, unstable soil and drainage.

Untermann, responding by e-mail, said his company remains committed to the project and admitted the first proposal didn't answer enough questions raised by the city and community.

"We did not do a good enough job on addressing those concerns," he said. "We will definitely be making major revisions. I really don't know specifically at this point. We will see."

Chien-Wen Tseng, an 'Aina Haina resident who helped mobilize the community to vocalize its opposition to the project, was grateful to learn the city had heard the community's concerns.

"We still need to be vigilant and find a long-term solution for our valley for all the parcels of land along the hillsides that are zoned for housing," Tseng said.

Henry Eng, city Department of Planning and Permitting director, issued a statement on the rejection of the project.

"The applicant should pursue other development options, which would have less visual, drainage, traffic and other detrimental impacts on the community," Eng said. "It may not be possible to successfully mitigate the long-term visual and temporary noise impacts of the development."

Eng said the city found the proposed project required significant cuts and tall retaining walls "which could have adverse effects upon the community."

The city also said in its findings that it needed more information from the developer to assess the effect the project would have on drainage. The area is a known slide area, in which homes have slid off their foundations and had to be condemned.

Reach Suzanne Roig at sroig@honoluluadvertiser.com.