Koa Ridge is a planned community in Central Oahu currently being developed by Castle & Cooke. Two phases, Koa Ridge Makai and Castle & Cooke Waiawa, total 760 acres near Ka Uka Boulevard and H-2 Freeway. The project seems to have the support of much of the community, but some concerns have been voiced by others in the community.
The plan calls for 3,500 to 5,000 single family homes in a wide range of price points. Koa Ridge is planned a self-sustaining community where residents will live, work, attend school, shop and enjoy outdoor recreation areas. It is focused on using “sustainable building” practices that seek to preserve economic prosperity, social and cultural equity and the natural ecology of the area. Koa Ridge will provide an abundance of pedestrian and bicycle friendly thoroughfares.
In addition to retail, commercial and educational amenities, Castle & Cooke plans to donate nearly 30 acres for the construction of a medical facility to the Wahiawa Hospital Association, the entity that currently runs Wahiawa General Hospital. Elementary, middle school and high schools are planned at Koa Ridge, and Castle & Cooke plans to coordinate with the State Department of Education on building the schools.
Castle & Cooke’s Koa Ridge development is now with the State Land Use Commission, which will rule on Castle & Cooke’s application to amend the area’s Agricultural Use District Boundary into the Urban District. At recent meetings, experts in fields ranging from archaeology to water quality have testified that no adverse effects would stem from the area. This testimony presumably comes following concerns that have been voiced regarding Koa Ridge’s potential impact on the surrounding areas of Waipio, Mililani, Waikele and Waipahu.
Supporters of the project cite job creation and economic opportunity as key benefits of the Koa Ridge project. Opponents are primarily concerned with the impact on traffic in the area and the loss of agricultural land.
The Land Use Commission approved the project in 2002, but a legal challenge has thus far prevented the project from moving forward. An Environmental Impact Statement has since prepared. The Sierra Club and the Mililani/Waipio/Malemanu Neighborhood Board have been the groups most actively opposed to the development of the Koa Ridge project. Since planning began, Castle & Cooke has invited over 70 community groups to participate in the visioning process. 47 of those groups have taken an active role in providing input for visioning.
The Land Use Commission has yet to rule on Castle & Cooke’s application regarding Koa Ridge, and future hearings are planned but not yet scheduled. The most recent hearings about the project were held on March 18 and 19.