Friday, Dec. 8, 2023 |
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To the Forum:
TGI published a letter from R. E. Weir which opposed a suggestion made for a
public election to occur for approval of major developments. This letter fails
to address the realities which generated the proposal and his objections do not
At present Kaua’i’s zoning laws are permissive of
developments. In substance our Planning Department and Planning Commission are
simply the vehicles in which the processing of approvals for proposed
For developers and others who support unlimited
development of Kaua’i this legal environment is idyllic. It is also necessary
to recognize that developers are well financed and persistent and they offer
attractive arguments that their developments will generate jobs and additional
property tax revenues. And developers make generous campaign
Our County Council has a history of finding these factors
controlling. If the proposed development enjoys public support the climate is
However, many of our citizens looking at urban sprawl and the
threat to a rural lifestyle believe that Kaua’i’s growth should be more
controlled. When a project does not have public support and our elected and
appointed officials fail to accept the public will there is a need for a means
to control unwanted developments.
Perhaps Mr. Weir has a better
suggestion, but the imposition of the requirement in these situations of a
public vote is a reasonable one.
Mr. Weir says that the requirement is
“silly” and raises questions about the frequency, costs and criteria for
The frequency of major developments is limited – there have
been less than 10 over the last 20 years. If the election were to be held as
part of a general election its cost would be minimal.
If the developer
wished a special election it should be paid for by the developer. In neither
case would there be a taxpayer burden.
Mr. Weir then suggests that voter
turnout is “notoriously” low and submits that approval of a project could
depend on the “whim” of a small number of voters.
Fortunately voting on
Kaua’i substantially exceeds the 36 percent rate he cites. As has been said,
democracy is the worst form of government except for all the rest, but it
cannot in good conscience be urged that elections should be invalidated because
of limited voter participation.
Finally he asserts that such an election
would be straying from the principles on which America was founded. It is
certainly true as he states that the inalienable rights specified in the Bill
of Rights should not be matters subject to public elections, but the
opportunity of a corporate enterprise to make a commercial development is
clearly not in the same category as freedom of speech, press, worship or
If the system currently in place does not carry out the public
will we need a mechanism to correct it. Requiring a public expression in cases
of major developments is such a means.
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