Moody cuts back plans for Hanama’ulu coastal project

A Las Vegas developer has called off plans to develop a 460-acre residential, commercial and golf course project on the coastline north of Hanama’ulu Bay.

EWM Kauai LLC., owned by Ernest W. Moody, had sought a county general plan amendment to convert the property from agricultural to urban use.

But, through an announcement made Wednesday by Kaua’i attorney Walton Hong, representing EWM, Moody said he is withdrawing the application for numerous reasons.

They included opposition from some residents who did not want changes to the Kaua’i County General Plan so soon after its adoption in November 2000.

Other concerns included Hawaiian rights, land ownership and loss of agricultural lands.

However, Moody said the project will be redesigned and the proposal will be brought back to the county for consideration some time in the future.

The announcement came one day after a Kaua’i County Planing Commission meeting where Hong withdrew a variance request to the county’s one-time agricultural subdivision rule as another way to develop the project.

EWM took both approaches to develop the Ocean Bay Plantation golf course and residential community.

EWM also sought commission permits to revegetate and beautify 29-acres of coastline within the 460 acres.

In withdrawing the general plan amendment request, Moody noted a year of planning went into the project.

“It is with profound sadness and regret that we withdraw the application,” Moody said in a news release. “We still believe that our project is the most appropriate use for the land, bringing many benefits for the Hanama’ulu community and the island.”

Moody noted the project proposed a championship 18-hole golf course, upscale residential lots, moderately-priced lots and town homes, a small retail section, hiking and bicycle trails, infrastructural improvements and other benefits.

The project would have initially created 900 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs later, Moody said.

The project would have generated $1.5 million in tax revenues each year, he said.

Moody said his project could have been a victim of election-year politics.

“Its unfortunate that our low-density, model project became a lightning rod in a political year, but I respect the process,” Moody said.

Moody said he and others connected with the project will “continue to work with the community and government and redesign our project and return at the proper time when our plans can be judged on their true merits.”

Hong said EWM has not decided what to do next with the property, but could develop 30 home sites allowed under the current agricultural, open and other zoning for the property, Hong said.

Other parcels also have designated for urban use by the state Land Use Commission, Hong said.

The commission officially accepted EWM’s request to withdraw the variance permit and is expected to do the same for the withdrawl of the general plan amendment proposal.

The disposition of the revegetation project has not been determined.

In withdrawing EWM’s application for the variance, Hong, consultation with Moody, said he made that decision solely because the commission committed procedural flaws during its Tuesday meeting, not because of hostile public comments.

The topic dealt with the deferral of the hearing on the variance until Nov. 12.

The commission should have acted on EWM’s request first, he said. If the commission had denied the deferral, then the public should have been allowed to give testimony, Hong said.

County officials said people had a right to give testimony despite the meeting’s sequence.

The variance request drew opposition from residents and the Kaua’i group of the Hawai’i chapter of the Sierra Club.

“There is no compelling reason to have development on prime agricultural land,” said Judy Dalton, a member of an executive committee of the Hawai’i chapter of the Sierra Club.

Thousand Friends of Kaua’i initially petitioned the commission to intervene in EWM’s variance request.

The organization sent an amended version but withdrew it because it had not been properly noticed or sent to EWM’s representatives, according to Thousand Friends’ representatives Carl Berg and Jack Lundgren.

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

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