Youn opposes EWM Hanama’ulu development

Former Kaua’i County planning director Avery Youn has come out against EWM Kaua’i LLC’s proposal for a 460-acre residential, commercial and golf course project north of Hanama’ulu town makes its way through the Kaua’i County Planning Commission.

The commission has scheduled a public hearing Aug. 27 on EWM’s request for a variance from a county rule allowing only a one-time subdivision of agricultural lands.

Youn, a Kaua’i architect, said the proposal should be withdrawn, is premature and goes against the intent of the general plan update.

In a letter to commission chairwoman Abigail Santos, Youn said he and many other residents spent 2 1/2 years developing the plan, and “changing it so soon would be a slap in the face.”

Youn said other urban-zoned lands owned by other property owners should be developed first.

He said the general plan points to growth elsewhere on the island first, including Grove Farm lands around Kukui Grove Shopping Center and Puhi, Alexander and Baldwin’s lands in Po’ipu and land in at Princeville and in West Kaua’i.

Youn said he represented the developers of the Kealia Kai subdivision who donated 57 acres of beachfront property in Kapa’a that have been converted into a county beach park.

“The shoreline concept is not continued in this (EWM’s) project,” Youn wrote. “Why isn’t the entire shoreline (with the EWM project) a reserve like Kealia?”

Youn also said local residents could not afford to buy a lot or home in the proposed EWM project and that commercial ventures proposed at the EWM site, if approved, will adversely affect businesses in LIhu’e.

Youn contended EWM typifies a new wave of nonresidents who have bought large tracts of former sugar lands on Kaua’i and have no intentions of becoming part of the community.

“It is the kind of exploitation of our island’s lands that is motivating people to rise up and say ‘enough,'” Youn wrote.

The land bought by non-residents, he contends, “are no longer becoming available for continued agricultural use or usage by local residents,” Youn wrote.

Representing the developer, Kaua’i attorney Walton Hong said he hasn’t seen the letter and could not respond to it.

For the Aug. 27 meeting, Hong asked the commission to defer the meeting until its next meeting in November.

In a letter to the commission, Hong said the deferral should be granted because:

– Some residents who spoke at previous public hearings have a “confused belief” that the variance request is tied to the proposed general plan amendment.

As an alternate way of developing the project, EWM also is seeking a county general plan amendment for the land to change it from agricultural to residential/community.

The developer is asking permits from the commission to revegetate 29 acres of coastline area.

– The confusion has forced the developer to defend its position against issues that are “irrelevant to the variance request.”

– A deferral will allow the commission sufficient time to handle the other development requests. This will allow the request for the variance to be considered on its own merits, Wong said.

Wong also said that the Thousand Friends of Kaua’i “will not be prejudiced” by the deferral because the organization’s petition to intervene in the EWM proposal will be voted on by the commission later.

In other matters, the commission has scheduled a public hearing a request by the Kaua’i Hospice for a permanent use permit to use a home in Lihu’e for its administrative offices.

Kaua’i Hospice is hoping to secure the permit so that it can buy the home, which is located in the Isenberg Tract and near Wilcox Hospital.

Kaua’i Hospice currently leases the home from the hospital and has use of it through a temporary use permit granted by the commission.

In a letter to the commission, David Patton, president and chief executive officer for Wilcox Hospital, said the lease was intended to provide a temporary home for Kaua’i Hospice while the organization look for alternatives.

Kaua’i Hospice, he said, has discovered the Lihu’e home is the best option. The purchase of the home would serve Wilcox Hospital’s future needs, Patton said.

With Wilcox Hospital completing the process for its merger with Kapiolani Health, the opportunity to sell the Lihu’e home “integrates well with our plan to reposition our assets within the merged organization, Hawaii Pacific Health,” Patton wrote.

Kaua’i Hospice’s proposal would benefit “the community at large, offers a cost-effective, long-term plan for Hospice,” he wrote.

With the home repainted, carpeting washed or newly installed and landscaping done, “the atmosphere of the home has become very conducive to the type of work that is done there,” said the Rev. John Lunn, board president of Kaua’i’ Hospice, Inc., in a letter to Santos.

Kaua’i Hospice prefers using the home because it is located across the street from the hospital, Lunn said.

Prior to moving into the Lihu’e home, Kaua’i Hospice occupied space at Wilcox Hospital.

The hospital has provided space for Kaua’i Hospice since 1989, and the two organizations have collaborated well on educational and community outreach projects, Patton said.

Kaua’i Hospice provides hospice care, bereavement services, emergency bereavement services, volunteer service and community and professional educational services.

The commission also plans to hold public hearings on a request by New Seacliff Estates Inc. to build five, two-story homes with garages and swimming pools on 33-plus-acres within the Seacliff Plantation subdivision in Kilauea.

New Seacliff is seeking use permits and Class IV zoning permits to build the homes on agricultural land. Four of sites average five acres in size. A fifth site is about 12 acres.

The developer proposes to put the homes on former sugar cane lands that are located on a hillside above Maka’ano Place.

The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is located immediately north of the project site.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net

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