YMCA high-rise taller than zoning limitsUPDATED 5:37 AM HST Jun 13, 2013Video Transcript
Today was the first step in getting a new high-rise as well as a new home for the YMCA's Kakaako location. But as KITV4's Andrew Pereira explains in tonight's top story, the plan is getting a lot of pushback from neighbors. As the song says-- it may be fun to stay at the YMCA, but building a new tower at the Atkinson Drive location is no laughing matter for residents close by. IAN WASHBURN: "THIS CAME TO US, THIS FIGHT CAME TO US. I'M NOT A CRUSADER BY ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION." But plenty of people were willing to speak out during a Planning Commission hearing Wednesday afternoon. GRACE LAM: "HAVING AN EXTRA HIGH-RISE THERE WILL INTENSIFY THE WIND TUNNEL EFFECT." Condo owners are upset about a partnership between the YMCA and developer Aloha Kai. The 'Y' wants to demolish the current building and put up a new mixed-use tower that would be 350 feet high... 200 feet taller that what current law allows. The fallback is to build a tower 150-feet high within current zoning. MICHAEL DOSS: "THIS DEVELOPMENT ALLOWS THE YMCA TO ONE, GET A NEW BUILDING, AND TWO, REMAIN IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD WHICH IS OUR PRIMARY OBJECTIVE." ANDREW PEREIRA: "RESIDENTS WHO LIVE IN NEARBY CONDOMINIUMS ARE CONCERNED WHAT A 350-FOOT TOWER WOULD DO TO THEIR VIEW PLANES. HOWEVER, DEVELOPER ALOHA KAI SAYS A SMALLER 150-BUILDING WOULD HAVE TO BE BUILT A LOT WIDER, AND THEREFORE A LOT CLOSER TO EXISTING TOWERS." IAN WASHBURN: "WHEN IT'S FINISHED WHEN THE DUST SETTLES, I WON'T BE ABLE TO HAVE THE VIEW THAT I ENJOY, AND I'LL HAVE ADDED TRAFFIC, ADDED PEOPLE ON THE SIDEWALK." Many of those who testified said they were not properly notified by Aloha Kai about redevelopment plans. SUZANNE ALAWA: "SO I THINK THE EFFORT THAT WAS MADE WAS IN FACT A VERY, VERY FEEBLE EFFORT." But the developer said all I's were dotted and T's crossed. JOHN WHALEN: "WE DID FOLLOW THE STEPS THAT THE LUO, THE LAND USE ORDINANCE, REQUIRES FOR NOTIFICATION. THE DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND PERMITTING DECIDED THAT WE HAD FOLLOWED THAT." Planning Commissioners approved the project 5-0, but with strings attached. Aloha Kai must include an archeological survey and a traffic plan. The next stop... the Honolulu City Council. MICHAEL DOSS: "I THINK BASED ON THE RECOMMENDATI ON FROM THE PLANNING COMMISSION WE'RE FEELING PRETTY GOOD RIGHT NOW." Planning Commissioners also recommended two more public meetings about the project before the issue goes to the council.