EWM relandscaping request rejected

The Kaua’i County Planing Commission last Tuesday rejected a proposal by EWM Kauai LLC to relandscape 29 coastline acres north of Hanama’ulu Bay.

At a meeting at the Lihu’e Civic Center, some commission members cited the need not to chop down existing ironwood trees that were originally planted to protect sugar cane fields and the fear the land clearing could lead to erosion and damage by ocean air.

By a 4-1 vote, with commissioner Randal Nishimura offering the dissenting vote, the commission denied EWM’s request for a Special Management Area Use permit, a use permit and a Class IV Zoning permit.

Commissioner Mike Cockett said granting the permits could result in the loss of access to public lands for residents. As more “gated” committee have emerged on Kaua’i, it seems landowners have had a tendency to close access to the beaches and mountains to residents.

Commission chairwoman Abigail Santos said trees were planted years ago to protect agricultural uses on the land, once used for cane cultivation, and to prevent erosion.

Commission Sandi Kato-Klutke said she liked what she saw during a visit to the land with other commissioners, but she noted the land clearing would open the way for the growth of other vegetation. Between the time the land was cleared and new growth developed, the land could suffer from exposure to salt, she said.

The declaration of the three commissioners drew whoops of delight from the small audience.

The denial will slow up efforts by EWM to develop a 460-acre residential, commercial and golf course project on makai lands north of Hanama’ulu Bay. The landscape project was an effort to beautify the entire project.

EWM, owned by Ernest W. Moody, proposed to develop the project in one of two ways: waiving of the county’s one-time agricultural subdivision rule and a general plan amendment to covert the property from agricultural to urban use.

But Moody withdrew his proposal request in August, citing:

– Opposition from people who didn’t want changes to the Kaua’i County General Plan so soon after its adoption in November 2000.

– Hawaiian rights, land ownership and loss of agricultural lands.

Moody, who is represented by Kaua’i attorney Walton Hong, said the plans for the larger project will be redesigned and that he plans to bring them back to the county for consideration in the future.

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