LIHU’E — The Kaua`i County Council’s Planning Committee members yesterday put
their support behind the proposed Makaweli resort project and sent it on to the
full council for a vote next week.
The proposed 250-unit Destination
Villages, on Gay & Robinson-held land, will either be a boon to the West
Side or a destroyer of island culture, depending on who was speaking at a
committee meeting Wednesday.
“Is this place appropriate for a resort? The
answer is no. This is coastal land and should be preserved. It has a fish pond.
It has a (Hawaiian) burial site. It has endangered species. This is not a place
for a resort,” said Bruce Pleas, a self-employed West Side resident.
bill should be shot down and killed. I’d rather see this as a cultural
destination village. This is about a lot of different cultures. There’s a lot
of history there,” Cheryl Lovell-Obatake said.
Lovell-Obatake has been a
persistent critic of the proposed resort, claiming it doesn’t properly take
into account the Hawaiian culture on the site.
But, despite taking note of
the objections, all of the committee members explained why they will vote to
approve the project next week.
“The developer has come in with a project
that is low-impact, low-density. I believe if we are diligent in our oversight
of this project, we have an opportunity to address the concerns voiced this
morning,” Councilman Billy Swain said.
Councilman Jimmy Tokioka said he has
walked door to door on the west side and heard, “We need jobs. We need to help
the locals on the West Side.”
The developers and the Robinson family “are
very sincere,” Tokioka added. “I know the Robinsons could just get out of this,
but they are concerned about the plantation workers. For that reason I am going
to vote yes.”
Councilman Gary Hooser said he has “mixed feelings about
this. I did vote no on a prior project But this is a much smaller-scale
project. I don’t like rezoning agricultural land into resort land, but there is
lots of opportunity for council input.”
There is opportunity to “retain the
wildness of the coast as much as possible,” Hooser said.
Lovell-Obatake and Pleas agreed that they were talking land-use and the
committee was talking economics.
Tokioka also clarified his position after
“I am afraid that if the Robinsons are not viable, someone
else may come in, and then what happens? If you are employed in the cane fields
right now, you can rent a house for $125 a month” from the Robinsons, Tokioka
said. And retirees from the company “pay $23 a month for housing, plus a dollar
for water a month. Where will all those people go if someone else comes
Staff writer Dennis Wilken can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252)