Orchidland Community Association
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This information is provided as general helpful information. You should NOT use any information provided on this site to determine whether you want to purchase property in Orchidland. The information on this site is not guaranteed accurate or up to date.
What is the Orchidland Community Association (OLCA)?The OLCA is responsible for maintaining the 40+ miles of roads inside Orchidland, but only to the extent that our budget allows, and that budget and the fee rate are established by the membership (property owners). The OLCA received a judgment in 1992 which grants it the authority to collect mandatory fees for road maintenance, nothing else. OLCA cannot use Mandatory Road Maintenance Assessments (MRMAs) for any other purpose. There are some administrative expenses as part of road maintenance, including a few paid employees (accountant, file keeper, road maint. workers, etc). The OLCA board is entirely made of nonpaid volunteers who own property here in Orchidland.
OLCA has also established a donation only fund to develop a 2 acre parcel at 36th & Orchidland Dr. into a community center with activities building, playground, etc. The lot was purchased with donations as well. Currently (fall 2007) there is a little over 4,000 dollars in the Community Lot Development Fund.
Among other things, OLCA is not responsible for mowing along roads or for garbage & abandoned vehicle removal. We encourage our community to mow the area where their property meets the road, and if possible, any nearby empty lots where they meet the roadway.
Where is Orchidland?Orchidland is about 12 miles south of Hilo on the east side of the Big Island of Hawaii. Take Highway 11 (called Kanoelehua Street in Hilo) south out of Hilo. Turn left onto Highway 130 (Keaau - Pahoa Rd. at about mile marker 6). Orchidland Estates will be on your right from about mile marker 4 to mile marker 6. Orchidland Drive and Aulii are probably the easiest roads to use to take you into the subdivision. Click here for a link to a MapQuest map.
What is Orchidland like?Orchidland is a rural community.
There are tall telephone pole like Ohia trees sticking up above dense, nearly impenetrable bush. Ohia lehua is typically a large, slow-growing, evergreen shrub or tree 30-80 ft high. Its forms are extremely variable, ranging from creeping or erect shrubs to spreading or tall trees. Ohia is one of the first plants to colonize new lava. Ohia lehua is the official flower of the island of Hawaii.
About a quarter of the lots have houses. The rest are empty and still jungle. The houses range from just shacks to near-mansions. There are several nurseries, small agricultural endeavors, retreats, vacation rentals and B&Bs. Many of the properties have Ohana dwellings, legal and otherwise.
Slowly but surely the quality of the roads is improving with better maintenance and some paving being done each year. Heavy rains (and we do get rain!) will damage the roads and it takes time for all 40 miles of roadway to be regraded.
The present Orchidland Community Association Board of Directors is working hard to upgrade the appearance and tone of our community at the same time accommodating the wishes of the folks that have lived here for many years. A community spirit is beginning to show. We hope to have community hall and meeting place on the commons property in the near future.
What are the roads like?There are about 40 miles of roads in the community. The portions of Pohaku, Laniuma, Orchidland and Aulii nearest the highway are paved. The side roads are generally gravel. A very few areas are simply dirt tracks. Keeping the roads in good condition is a challenge given the amount of rainfall and budget constraints. Please see Our Roads page on this site for more information.
What can I build on my lot?You can build one home or almost anything having to do with agriculture. You cannot build a second dwelling or "Ohana" unless the lot has a special permit for it.
If you are considering any sort of commercial establishment, church, school, day care, etc. You should contact OLCA first to get a sense of how the association would feel about it. You will eventually need a Special Permit from the County, and OLCA may actively oppose the application if it is not consistent with community plans.
When will my street be paved?Click here for more information about paving.
What are the fees?The fees are a minimum of $85/lot for the Mandatory Road Maintenance Fee and $100/lot for the paving fee (2006 and 2007) Click here for more fee information.
How much do I owe on my property?Just click here to send a request to our records keeper. Be sure to include the name of the owner that the lot is registered to as well as the TMK(s). Please don't do it unless you really want to know, as it is a lot of work to look it up and reply.
What are property taxes?The 2005 tax rates are $9.85 and $9.10 per $1,000 of assessed value for raw land and improved residential property respectively. A typical un-improved 3-acre Orchidland lot will has an annual tax bill of $220 - $260. Home exemption is $40,000 until age 60. At age 60 you qualify for an $80,000 credit against your assessment if you live on the property. That jumps to $100,000 at age 70. If you are 65 and your house and property are assessed at $380,000, you pay tax on only $300,000. For more information click here.
What utilities are available?There is only electricity and telephone (with some DSL capability) and satellite TV. No city water, sewer, gas or cable is available.
Water is almost exclusively from roof rainwater catchment systems. A typical single family home will have a 5,000 to 10,000 holding tank into which the roof drains. Water is usually is passed through a filter system before going into the household plumbing. Ultraviolet sterilization is also commonly used to be on the safe side. This may sound a bit dicey to the newcomer used to chlorinated city water, but really it is no big deal. All the bits and pieces and know-how are available locally. Click here for more information on water catchment.
Think twice about using a well for water supply. The ground is cracked lava with channels that can flow easily from your neighbor's cesspool to your drinking well. Check with the CTAHR or the Health Department for some authoritative advice. If you do drill a well, have it checked for bacteria before drinking.
If you build, you need either a cesspool or a septic tank. As of 2005 cesspools are still allowed on 3 acre lots, but maybe not much longer. Cesspools are much cheaper to build.
With a good TV antenna you can get ABC, CBS, PBS, FOX and maybe NBC. For more selection satellite is the only option.
Electricity is expensive - about $.29/KWH with all the surcharges, etc. Think twice about air-conditioning. Just build a house with lots of windows and enjoy the trade wind breezes.
Gas is LPG from a tank on your property. Currently (09/2007) delivered LPG is $3.75/gallon + tax.
How can I find my lot with just a TMK?Click here to go to the plat maps. From there you can find distances to corners and other houses.
It gets to be a treasure hunt if your lot isn't near some landmark. There are 'pinfinders' listed in the Yellow Pages or the classified ads in the newspaper. Usually they can locate your property pins with the help of a metal detector. They are a lot cheaper than the alternative of a surveyor.
Why is it called Orchidland?There is an orchid with the Latin name of Arundinea graminifolia (commonly known as the bamboo orchid). Orchidland has meadows of them. In addition, there lots of Spathoglottis plicata, and a few Phaius tankerville (nun's cap) deep in the bush. None are indigenous to Hawaii, but have escaped and gone wild.
What is the weather like?Well, it rains a lot - 165 inches in the average year. Actually, it is not as bad as you might think. In settled trade wind weather it tends to rain mainly at night, clearing by 9-10 in the morning. In unsettled weather it can rain at anytime. It can rain very hard too! Rates of 2-3 inches per hour are not unheard of over short periods of time. Believe it or not we had 39 inches of rain in a 36-hour period back in November of 2000. Now that's rain! To see what the weather is doing now click here.
The ground is rather porous and flooding is generally not a problem. A few areas in Orchidland that channel and are prone to flooding.
Our temperature is somewhat cooler that Hilo because of the elevation. On a clear winter night the temperature will dip into the upper 50's. On a hot summer day it will reach the mid 80's. Usually it is quite comfortable. A wood stove is a welcome addition on a cold, soggy winter evening.
What are the flooding problems?At the present time there is a small section of the subdivision that becomes inaccessible during heavy rains. Three places on the roads become dangerous or impassable. They are located at the intersection of Pohaku and 39th, and a couple hundred yards either side of the intersection of Pohaku and 40th.
Before buying anywhere in this area make sure you talk to some of the neighbors so that you clearly understand the situation.
What is the risk from the volcano/tsunami/earthquakes/hurricanes?Orchidland lies in a lava hazard zone #3. To find out more about what this means click here. Much of Orchidland was last inundated with lava about 350 years ago. You pay your money and you take your chances. If you would like to know what the volcano is up to today click here. Mauna Loa erupts every 20 years on average, and we are overdue.
Earthquakes occur rather frequently. Every month or so we get a 3+ on the Richter scale. That is enough to rattle the windows and doors. A couple of times a year a 4+ comes along and you have to go around and straighten the pictures. Once in awhile the 5+ comes along and that gets your attention. Every 5 years or so there is a 6+ quake that does some damage. To see a list of recent earthquakes click here.
Hurricanes near the Hawaiian Islands are nowhere near as common as they are in the Atlantic. That said, they do come along every few years. There are rumors around that The Big Island never gets hit because Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa deflect them. That is likely in the category of urban legend or wishful thinking. Hurricane insurance is available, but expensive. If you are building new, include roof tiedowns connecting the roof beams to the sill plates with steel connectors. You will get a credit on your insurance.
Tsunami - forget it unless you are shopping in Hilo. Orchidland is too high to be affected by any tsunami of anything less that biblical proportions.
What is 'VOG' and how bad is it?VOG stands for 'volcanic smog'. It is an aerosol haze of sulfur dioxide, sulfuric acid, dust and other nasty things emitted by the volcano and which are catalyzed by the sunlight. We are pretty lucky here in Orchidland even though we are only 15 miles from the currently active Pu'u O'o crater. The usual trade winds blow the vog away from us, and the winter Kona winds the plume seem to miss us as well. Hilo town has much more vog than Orchidland. Rough guess is that there are about 5-10 days per year when the VOG is noticeable (to the point where it will somewhat irritate the throat and eyes of a healthy person). If you have asthma, emphysema or other respiratory problems it can be anything from a nuisance to something pretty serious.
How is Orchidland zoned?Agricultural. If you buy or own property here in Orchidland, your neighbors are likely to have a farm, chickens, cows, very large green houses, tractors... Due to the agricultural zoning, you are limited to what you may build on the property. You should check with the county before buying to ensure you are able to build what you want.
What grows in Orchidland?Almost anything! Coffee, bananas, tropical fruits, palms, heliconia, and exotics. However, except for a few isolated "kipukas" (a hummock where the lava hasn't flowed recently) there really isn't much soil. Large planting areas are prepared by having the solid pahoehoe lava ripped with a large D9 bulldozer. The bulldozer then runs over the resulting large rocks crushing them and flattening out the terrain. Then, cinder and maybe a little soil is hauled in and spread. It is a bit costly, (roughly $6,000/acre for the bulldozer plus $2,700/acre for cinder) but the results can be spectacular. Smaller scale plantings can be done by hand clearing around the Ohia trees with selective removal of some trees. Raised beds also work well. Various types of shade houses are common.
Should I rip my lot?No! Unless you have a reason, there is no need to kill all the vegetation on a lot. A much more economic and ecologically sound solution is to only rip the vegetation needed to clear space for your house, driveway and planting areas.
What are lava tubes?Lava tubes are essentially long caves that are formed as liquid lava runs out of its underground channel leaving behind an empty tube. There are a number of them running through Orchidland with many "pukas" or entrance holes throughout the subdivision. There is a 'slight risk' of a bulldozer falling through when ripping a property, and there may be a personal liability issue of someone falling into a puka on your property.
What about Coqui frogs?Coqui frogs are an accidentally introduced species and are a thorough-going pain in the you know what. Left uncontrolled the noise level around the house can get to the point where conversation is difficult and you have to turn up the volume on the TV. Unfortunately, these tiny, loud pests have moved into areas of Orchidland.
At the present time there is no known method for complete eradication. In a few years they will be everywhere! However, they can be controlled locally to the point that your property is livable. A periodic area spray of citric acid or hydrated lime coupled with the clearing of brush seem to be fairly effective. For more information click here.
What are the public schools like?There are brand new elementary and high schools in Keaau. Really first-rate facilities with lighted athletic fields, bleachers and the whole nine yards.
Academically, let the facts speak for themselves. Within the nation Hawaii ranks near the bottom in both reading and math on nationally administered standardized tests, and our local schools (Keaau and Pahoa) rank near the bottom within the state. Pahoa High and Intermediate, Keaau Middle have failed to meet the student achievement standards of the No Child Left Behind Act, and are now subject to "restructuring" by the State of Hawaii. Keaau Elementary and High have not not met the standards for this last year. Click here for more information. There are several public charter schools in the area and excellent teachers everywhere.
Are there Covenants and Restrictions in Orchidland?No... Orchidland is not a planned community, and therefore there are no CC&R's as many traditional communities may have.
How far is it to shopping?It is about 6 miles into Keaau or the Pahoa where you will find medium-size grocery stores, hardware, pharmacy, restaurants, etc. It is about 12 miles into the shopping mall area of Hilo where there are stores like Sears, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Safeway, etc. Downtown Hilo is a couple of miles further.
How can I find out what is going on in Orchidland?Check out this website (www.orchidland.org) on a regular basis. Owners may register to receive emails on important issues affecting Orchidland, click here.