Pedestrian bridge ordered built, 24 years later

The Kaua‘i County Council yesterday required the owners of Kauai Village in Waipouli to comply with a 24-year-old building permit condition.

Kauai Village Associates is to construct and maintain a pedestrian bridge linking its shopping center with the adjacent Waipouli Town Center across the Uhelekawawa Canal in Waipouli, or face civil penalities.

Some residents have complained that the developer promised to build the pedestrian bridge years ago, and that, on principle, Kauai Villages should build it.

The bridge is designed to help relieve vehicular traffic around the two shopping centers, the largest in East Kaua‘i, and traffic from a new hotel-resort that will be going up across from both of the shopping areas.

Various council members said the project will benefit both shopping centers and may even relieve foot traffic on a state-constructed vehicle and pedestrian bridge on Kuhio Highway that links the shopping centers.

The pedestrian bridge was a requirement for a 100-unit residential subdivision that was planned for the area where the Kauai Village clock tower sits today.

The residential project never became a reality, however, the condition for the bridge remained on the books, county officials said.

Officials said representatives for Kauai Village Associates felt there was no need to build the pedestrian bridge after the state roadway and pedestrian bridge were constructed in 1993.

The action by the council stipulated that the owners of both shopping centers share the cost of the bridge.

Substantial construction of the pedestrian path should start within one year after the law has taken effect, the law said.

The bridge should be ready for public use within 2 years after the law has become official. The legislation has been sent to Mayor Bryan Baptiste for review.

If the requirements aren’t met, the county planning commission and the county planning director can initiate legal proceedings against Kauai Village Associates, the mea- sure said.

No representatives for the developer attended the council meeting.

Councilman Daryl Kaneshiro said he was baffled that the developer didn’t have the bridge condition deleted in the late 1980s, when it moved to have the watch tower built.

Yukimura said because the state pedestrian bridge was not in place until 1993, the developer didn’t opt to have the requirement removed.

The new pedestrian bridge should be built to meet the needs of physically-challenged residents, and should comply with the American with Disabilities Act, said vice chair James Tokioka and councilman Jay Furfaro.

Grove Farm rezoning

In other action, council chair Kaipo Asing and councilwoman Yukimura briefly debated the issue of affordable housing as the council approved Grove Farm Company’s request to rezone 4.5 acres in Lihu‘e from multi-family to single-family use.

The action opened the way for the construction of 16 homes, as opposed to 90 condominiums that were previously allowed under the multi-family zoning use.

The new project would be an extension of the Puako luxury home subdivision in Lihu‘e, and would add to the inventory of high-price properties in East Kaua‘i.

But, even as Yukimura voted for the proposal, she said that there is an urgent need for construction of more affordable housing, not more high-priced homes.

County officials have said the price of homes has gone so high that they worry local residents may be boxed out of the housing market.

Yukimura said her official position on the project was that the 4.5 acre-lot should not be used for affordable housing. However, multi-family units would increase the housing stock on the island, Yukimura noted.

Asing said Grove Farm Company officials have done their share in providing affordable housing on Kaua‘i.

Back in 1980, when the company began developing its properties in Lihu‘e, the developer complied with a state and county requirement that 60 percent of the residential units it built are affordable.

County officials said no other developer on Kaua‘i has ever been strapped with such a stringent development requirement.

Asing praised Grove Farm officials for going along with the requirement, adding “I understand what Grove Farm went through, and they went ahead and built those affordable units.”

Yukimura said it seemed to her that Grove Farm is “well on its way” in complying with its 60 percent affordable housing requirement.

Asing also said developers run the risk of going bankrupt if government building requirements are too severe.

“Developers can’t do everything,” Asing said, adding county officials should be reasonable in setting building conditions.

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