Golf Course Development Policies Workshop
Representatives of the local government (5), of the University of Hawaii (7), and of golf course developers (3), and (3) individuals, one of whom was LWV Planning and Zoning Chair Astrid Monson spoke on the background, general planning of development issues, environmental concerns and their proposed solutions. The following is an excerpt from Monson's presentation on the proposed solutions:
"Our main concern at this time is that the whole question of impact fees and benefit assessments has blotted out the planning issues involved in formulating a comprehensive set of policies for golf course development.
- GENERAL PLAN.
- We suggest adding to the General Plan an item on policy for golf courses. This might include giving priority to facilities intended for local use at affordable fees and resort hotels and a distant third for courses offering only high-priced memberships to non-residents. A statement limiting all golf course facilities to non-agricultural or only low grade farm land could be included.
- DEVELOPMENT PLAN POLICIES.
- Enact a moratorium at once.
- Develop comprehensive, island-wide policies to guide the number, location and requirements of future golf courses.
- Take into account the total impact on the island's land supply, land prices, pollution, etc...
- Balance the land needs of housing, other recreation, commerce, industry, agriculture, public facilities, etc... and see that they are provided for.
- Establish norms governing how many golf courses of different kinds shall be developed in different areas, location criteria, environmental requirements, etc...
- IMPACT FEE POLICIES
- Only after planning criteria have been satisfied, identify for a desired golf course the actual impacts which would create a burden for both the immediate neighborhood and the community generally.
- Develop equitable impact fee standards justifiable in terms of both immediate infrastructure needs created by the development and other logically related burdens it places on the community.
- Develop a tax system which, over a period of years, recaptures for the community a reasonable share of the increased land values brought about by public action and the added income created.
- We oppose any system of benefit fees which tends to auction off land use approvals or zoning to the highest bidder.
DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENTS AND VESTED RIGHTS
- We have always opposed giving vested rights as a trade-off for development agreements or vice-versa. We think this is a gimmick developed to sweeten community benefit exactions not otherwise legally possible and, also, that development agreements themselves were developed politically when vested rights bills could not pass the legislature in the late '70's and early 4'80's.
- Our reasons include that giving vested rights at so early a stage in the development process ties the hands of future legislative bodies, encourages land speculation, permits individually negotiated deals (instead of being based on standards applicable to all), exempts selected developers from having to comply with future regulations and is initiative-proof.
- Though we are told that unilateral agreements cannot be enforced, we point to such an agreement recently made between the City and First Development Co. for Aloha Motors Convention Center complex.
- We feel that legally, justifiable impact fees can be assessed and tax measures can be enacted without giving vested rights. We feel that truly voluntary contributions can be handled through unilateral agreements or, if a two-way contract is desired for surer enforceability, by a contractual agreement which is not tied to a change in zoning and needs not be rewarded with vested rights. Even if no zoning action is needed, the impacts of a golf course would be the same.
- Golf courses are particularly unsuitable for vested rights as they do not involve many years of construction, such as a large planned community might entail.
- We refer you to John Whalen's Community Benefits Assessment bill, which approached the matter by setting specific standards by which benefit fees could be determined and did not involve vested rights. We oppose their sale, as we do zoning.
- Finally, we fear that if development agreements and vested rights are allowed for golf courses, other types of developments will be quick to follow."