State looking into Aliomanu sea wall project

A state Department of Land and Natural Land division plans to ask the Land Board for a determination on whether to take action against Kaua’i County for a coastline recovery project along Aliomanu Road in Anahola that sparked public complaints.

Using heavy equipment, county workers in December replaced boulders that had been removed from the shoreline by high surf that had pounded the shoreline in November.

County officials said no additional rocks were taken, but at least one full-time and one part-time Aliomanu residents contended boulders taken by the wave action and those that had been in the water for a long time were taken off the reef to shore up Aliomanu Road.

Residents, including Native Hawaiians who live by Anahola Bay, could lose access or have access restricted if the ground under the road eroded and the road were closed. The road is the only public road in an out of the Aliomanu area.

County officials said there is no danger at this point of the road eroding and that the placement of the boulders will help maintain its use.

Samuel Lemmo, chief planner with the planning office of the DLNR division on O’ahu, said he will probably submit a report to the Land Board in a few months for “some type of disposition.”

That could mean a citation for the county, or it could mean that the county would have to obtain an after-the-fact Conservation District Use Application permit for the work, which was expected to be finished late last year.

Lemma said county officials did not notify the DLNR before the work began, although protocol called for it.

Lemmo said he would have informed the county that they had options:

– Giving the county public works department, which did the work, direction on the “necessary permit process.”

– The county might not need to obtain a state permit if the work were viewed as ongoing road maintenance.

“We may have looked at it as minor action to improve what could have been an existing structure,” Lemmo said.

– If the work amounted to new action or “new land use,” the county, before it could undertake the corrective work, would have needed a CDUA permit from the Land Board. An environmental assessment also would be require if new work was to be done, Lemmo said.

Tarey Low, a spokesman for the DLNR’s division of conservation and resources enforcement office on Kaua’i, said his office has done an investigation and has sent materials over to Lemmo for review.

The Land Board would be using the report to make any decision on the matter.

Lemmo said the “county is aware of the situation” and “is cooperating with us.”

The Land Board could impose fines, not fine the county, require the county to remove the rocks that have been put on the coastline or require the county to apply for an after-the-fact DLNR permit, Lemmo said.

Russell Sugano, chief of operations for the highway division of the Kaua’i County Public Works Department, was not immediately available for comment.

But he has said that work crews plucked boulders from the ocean that had sat on the shoreline before and placed put them along a few hundred feet of the Aliomanu coast.

The workers were merely putting back boulders that had been taken away by heavy wave action in the past, Sugano said. Because of the work, the likelihood of Aliomanu Road eroding is less likely, he said.

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

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