Envision Laie is a project brought on by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) that will, most significantly, create a set of new subdivisions collectively called Malaekahana just west of Laie that will rival the populations of the other towns in the Koolau Loa region.
This massive plan will most likely include widening parts of Kamehameha Highway, which will require condemning some properties along that road, as well as seizing some kuleana lands for roads that connect BYU to these other developments upland supposedly to lessen impact on Kamehameha Highway.
The population increase will be considerable—Bringham Young University Hawaii alone expects to increase its student enrollment from 5,000 to 10,000 in the coming years.
Community complaints are mainly two-fold: one is that Public Advisory Committee (PAC) drew up its own Sustainable Communities Plan (SCP) in the middle of last year, and the group, made up of a diverse segment of the Koolau Loa region, did not allow Envision Laie to be put on the SCP, which is the document that gives the City and Deptartment of Planning and Permitting the right to OK the project.
David Tanouye, director of the Planning and Permitting Deptartment, met behind the scenes with the developer, Hawaii Reserves Inc. (HRI), the land management arm of the LDS church. When the draft SCP came out in 2010, Envision Laie was included in the plan.
Because the PAC is advisory, many consider this beneath contempt because the group was overruled on such a major development. Secondly, according to the General Plan, which advises how the SCP’s for each region is to be laid out (generally), Koolau Loa should remain as “country” as possible without much major development. The General Plan also favors the preservation of ag lands.
Malaekahana is designated as ag land. And the Koolau Loa SCP also notes the importance of kuleana lands, yet lands will be lost with the back roads that would be built.