EWM pulls variance request for Hanama’ulu project

Claiming procedural flaws and hostile public comments, the attorney representing a mainland developer for a proposed 460-acre residential, commercial and golf course project north of Hanama’ulu town withdrew a variance request to bring the project to fruition.

Kaua’i attorney Walton Hong, representing EWM Kauai LLC., made the announcement at a Kaua’i County Planning Commission hearing on a request for a variance to the one-time subdivision of agricultural land.

At the same meeting, Kaua’i County Council chairman Ron Kouchi announced his objections to the request for a variance and a deferral of a meeting on the matter.

He also opposed EWM’s request for a proposed general plan amendment of the property from agricultural to urban use.

EWM has taken both approaches to develop the project. As part of the project, EWM also is seeking commission permits to revegetate 29 coastline acres at the project site.

Kouchi said residents aren’t likely to afford the proposed lot prices of $150,000 to $190,000 in one phase of the proposed project.

Kouchi also said a commission decision to defer the meeting on the variance request would put the body in a position where it would have to vote on development permits around the Nov. 5 general election.

The length and timing of the deferral request created an unnecessary cloud of suspicion, Kouchi said.

Also, the commission’s granting of the variance would not allow other agencies, including the council, and the public to evaluate the project further.

“The pending application of the SMA (Special Management Area Use permit) and the General Plan Amendment involving this property should be evaluated without the uncertainty of this variance application lingering in the background,” Kouchi said. “I would urge the commission to deny the variance without due haste.”

Although EWM Kauai has withdrawn its request for the variance, the developer can submit another request if it chose to do so, Hong said.

He had asked for a deferral of the meeting on the variance request until Nov. 12 because he felt, among other reasons, the public was confusing the variance request with the other development requests sought by EWM.

In withdrawing the request for the variance, Hong said it seemed the commission was going to make a decision on the deferral after it had received public testimony.

The process, Hong said, called for the commission to render a decision first.

If the commission denied the deferral, then the public should be allowed to give testimony, Hong said.

County officials said the process that was used was apparently appropriate.

Hong also said that he could not recall a time when the commission did not approve a deferral request on a project.

Tgi staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681, Ext. 225, or email mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net.

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