LIHUE— Kauai’s plan for the future is getting fine-tuned, with feedback from residents.
The county council began updating and amending the general plan at a planning committee meeting on Wednesday attended by about 50 people.
The session started with a dozen verbal testimonies during the first of what is expected to be a multi-day discussion. Throughout the process, concerns were raised over excessive, rapid, and ill-planned growth.
Council vice chair, Ross Kagawa, said the county received at least 100 emails contesting a future development in Princeville. He said project developers agreed to remove the project from resort designation.
“Often times we are stuck in the middle of stubborn developers and the public who has a different sentiment,” said council member, Derek Kawakami. “In this case the developer heard and listened.”
Kapaa resident Gabriella Taylor was most concerned about future land use, especially the proposed development, Hokua Place, which would bring an additional 780 dwellings behind Kapaa Middle School.
“Traffic is already unbearable, and don’t forget that there’s three already permitted resorts in the Wailua corner,” she said. “It’s diminishing our quality of life now, and it’s just going to be so much worse. Please have pity on us.”
Ray Gordon, president of Koloa Estate Community Association, said a proposed road that would connect Poipu Road to the western bypass would create traffic problems, overwhelm the local drainage system, and cut through the community.
Others were interested in updates for relocating Hanapepe/Eleele boundaries, as well as additional zoning and permitting code changes throughout the island.
Following this first opportunity for public testimony, council members introduced nearly 200 amendments to the planning commission’s June draft of the plan, including maps, policies and implementing actions.
The lengthy process grouped amendments into nine separate packages, including issues related to the watershed, infrastructure, affordable housing, cultural practices and managing capacity for tourism and its impacts.
“It’s a gallant effort of the county council to take the time to really wade through and understand all of the issues that have been brought up in the general plan,” said Anne Walton of Kauai Coalition. “We hope that because of their deeper understanding, they’re able to affect change in this plan in a positive way.”
One speaker, Ann Thurston, helped collect 1,547 petition signatures in support of a general plan that satisfies the needs and interests of residents.
Nafisseh Soroudi pushed for energy sustainability.
“There are several key points with greenhouse emissions being the number one goal for us to be reducing on Kauai, in accord with the Paris agreement, which our governor has endorsed,” Soroudi said.
Aside from reducing greenhouse emissions by about 25 percent before 2025, she said implementing the county’s zero-waste strategy would benefit by locating markets for recycled material.
“Otherwise we’re going to become like Stanton Island, living on a landfill,” she said.
Other amendments considered for the plan include taking measures to protect the upper native forested watershed, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as increase source reduction, recycling, bio-diversion and landfill diversion methods.
Proposals from the planning department continued to address regulating coastal development and activities to protect near-shore habitats, countering the threat of invasive species and diseases, reducing health-related hazards, evaluating transportation and many other issues.
The special planning meeting will carry over into today and Friday if necessary, giving a second opportunity for residents to share their views.