Regulations For Multiple Houses on Agricultural-Zoned Land (Big Island)
One of the questions I’m most frequently asked when I show vacant land or homes on acreage in North Kohala is, “How easy is it to get permits to build multiple homes on agricultural zoned land?” They may have heard about “additional farm dwellings” or even be looking at a property where more than one structure exists. Some prospective buyers are looking for property suitable for a family compound, or a collective living situation.
In addition to this main home, a 6.8-acre Ag property near Hawi (MLS# 244094) already has a partially-built, permitted “additional farm dwelling”
County Code Governs Permitted Uses For Each Zoning Classification
The first place to start in understanding the rules for what can and can’t be built on land zoned “agricultural” in Hawaii County would be to consult Chapter 25 of the county code regarding zoning. This document can be found on the County website: Hawaii County Code (or email me for a copy of the relevant section).
For each zoning classification, the code specifies uses that are allowed as well as uses that are allowed with special permits. In most zoning categories, only one single family home is allowed. On Ag-zoned land additional farm dwellings may be permitted upon approval of an agreement submitted to the Planning Department with a farm plan or other evidence of the applicant’s ongoing agricultural use.
How many homes or additional farm dwellings would be allowed on, say, a 20-acre parcel? The Growth Management subcommittee of our North Kohala Community Development Plan (CDP) Action Committee recently met with a planning department representative to ask exactly that question.
Specific Current Guidelines For Additional Farm Dwelling Agreements
Assuming the applicant does have bona fide agricultural activity, the answer is that the first additional farm dwelling is allowed without conditions. The second farm dwelling would require proof that the resident worked at least 8 hours per week on the property; a third farm dwelling would require proof of 40 hours of farm work per week per farm dwelling.
Approval from the planning department is only the first step. All other building code and permit requirements for a residence must still be met.
One other caveat if you are thinking you’d like to have a “retreat” or “bed-and-breakfast” on your farm property; the North Kohala CDP directs the planning department to not approve any additional applications for special permits to allow overnight accommodations on land zoned agricultural in our district. Other districts might view these applications differently, so be sure to check with a Hawaii Life real estate agent familiar with the local environment in your neighborhood of interest.