Castle and Cooke is still pushing for approval on the Koa Ridge project. The 5,000-home Koa Ridge development plan is headed back to the state Land Use Commission for the third time this decade. The latest halt of the project came in July, when a state judge halted the Koa Ridge project, ruling in favor of the Sierra Club.
The judge disqualified one LUC member from an Oct. 15, 2010, vote on the project, which left Castle & Cooke one vote shy of the six necessary to approve Koa Ridge.
Developing giant Castle & Cooke submitted a new petition last week seeking LUC approval to urbanize 768 acres of farmland between Mililani and Waipio for the $2.2 billion project stopped twice by the Sierra Club. Commission rules prohibit the LUC from accepting a petition within one year of a similar petition being denied.
Castle & Cooke submitted a new petition on Oct. 3, but it has not been accepted by the LUC. The agency is reviewing the petition for completeness, and will later decide whether to accept it.
Harry Saunders – who is president of Hawaii operations for Castle & Cooke, said in a statement the company will continue legal efforts to appeal the Circuit Court ruling while pursuing a new LUC vote on the project’s merits.
“We are fully committed to Koa Ridge, which will create thousands of local jobs, millions in investment for our economy and much-needed homes for Hawaii residents,” he said.
The original Koa Ridge planned for 5,000 homes, a hotel, medical campus, retail stores, parks and two schools. That same plan remains in affect, if Castle and Cooke are ever able to get approval. Before the court setback, Castle & Cooke was seeking City Council zoning approval and hoped to start construction next year to deliver initial homes by the end of 2013. That finish date seems highly unlikely now, however Castle and Cook have not released new development timelines.
Castle and Cooke’s current adversary – the Sierra Club, has argued that preserving prime farmland on Oahu is critical to ensure that the state has the capability to reduce its reliance on imported food.
Robert Harris, director of the Sierra Club’s Hawaii chapter, reserved comment Monday on Castle & Cooke’s latest move and said the organization would be discussing its strategy in the next few days.
The Sierra Club has been shrewd in its fight against Koa Ridge, which it derailed twice in the past decade by reversing approvals in court after failed challenges before the LUC.
This is an ongoing battle which remains up in the air for the time being.