Proposal: Grading violations would hold up developments

The Kaua‘i County Council is asking the Kaua‘i County Planning Commission for its recommendation on a bill to make it difficult for landowners to develop a project if they are being investigated for a grading violation.

The council wants input before taking action on the bill. If the bill becomes law, the county would have another way to guard against abuses.

The legislation would support a separate council bill intending to strengthen the county’s grading, grubbing and stockpiling law.

The council bill sent to the commission proposes to amend the county’s subdivision ordinance by requiring the commission to deny preliminary approval, final approval or “extension of time” requests for proposals when grading violations are an issue.

The bill also empowers the commission to revoke preliminary approval of subdivision proposals and “extensions of time,” according to the legislation.

Councilman Jay Furfaro presented the bill during a meeting of the commission at the Lihu‘e Civic Center yesterday, according to county planner Dale Cua.

Cua said no one spoke for or against the bill yesterday. The commission will eventually send the bill back to the council after its review.

In other action yesterday, the commission approved and considered proposals to increase the number of charter and private schools on Kaua‘i.

The commission approved a proposal by an Hawaiian group to establish a charter school and community programs at the former Waimea Hospital/Dispensary Building in West Kaua‘i.

The approval of Kula Aupuni Niihau A Kahelelani Aloha’s proposal opens the way for the introduction of more high-tech training in West Kaua‘i for island youths and adults. The proposal includes a high-tech training facility.

Representatives for Kula Aupuni sought a use permit and a Class IV permit for its K-12 charter school.

The planning department staffers recommended the commission give a favorable nod to the proposal.

Before the commission took action, planning staffers made numerous recommendations, including requiring representatives for Kula Aupuni to resolve concerns about additional traffic the project is likely to create at the intersection of Kaumuali’i Highway and Ola Road.

Planners also asked that the permits be tied only to Kula Aupuni and required organization representatives to provide a status report to the planning department for review and approval every two years.

Roland Sagum, president of Applied Planning Systems of Lawai, represented the Kula Aupuni.

The organization is half-way toward seeing the project become a reality.

Representatives for Kula Aupuni are proposing to buy the 1-acre lot with buildings for about $395,000 from the West Kauai Community Development Corp., Sagum has said.

The sale has hinged on Kula Aupuni’s ability to secure the county permits and purchase funds.

With the help of Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawai‘i), Kula Aupuni operators have secured a $223,000 Housing and Urban Development grant to help buy the old dispensary and to establish a high-tech training facility within it, Sagum has said.

Kula Aupuni representatives are applying for a similar grant next year, and are seeking donations from the community to develop the project, Sagum said.

The project would provide Kula Aupuni Niihau a new home.

At one time, the organization operated its K-12 charter school at the Kekaha Armory with Aha Punana Leo Inc. It is a Big Island non profit group that manages the Ke Kula Niihau O Kekaha, another charter school that operates in Kekaha.

Because of philosophical differences, operators of the Kula Aupuni K-12 charter school moved out, and operators of the other school remained.

Since that time, proponents of Kula Aupuni have operated the school in a building on Ola Street used by the Boys and Girls Club of Waimea.

In other matters, proponents of the Olelo Christian Academy and the Lihue Baptist Church presented a proposal for a K-12 private school on the church grounds off Kapule Highway in Lihu‘e.

Supporters of the school are seeking a use permit and a Class IV zoning permit from the commission.

County staffers and the school’s principal, Lynn Luttrell said three classrooms would be housed within existing church buildings, up to 50 students would be taught by three full-time and two part-time teachers, and the school would operate from 8 am. to 2:15 p.m. Monday to Friday.

“This is an alternate for parents, and our purpose is to teach all subjects from the Christian point of view,” she said before the meeting. The curriculum will boast “all academic subjects,” including math, science, reading, Luttrell said.

In a letter to the county, Christopher Metcalf, pastor of the Lihue Baptist Church, said the church is seeking the permits as a way to expand “our ministry by having Olelo Christian Academy share use of our current facilities.”

The classrooms would be used by the school during the day, and the rooms would be used by the church during the evenings and weekends, Metcalf said.

Within at least one of the classrooms, the academy would take over space that was used by operators of a day-care program, Luttrell said.

The school would be located immediately west of the intersection of Ahukini Road and Elua Street.

The state Department of Transportation has concerns the new school could generate traffic congestion at the intersection.

To address that concern, school officials will ask parents driving their children to school to use an alternate route to get to the school, Luttrell said.

“Parents will be using a left turn lane from the highway onto Umi Street, (located one block makai of the street),” Luttrell said.

The proposal was supported by Bobby Keao, an advisor to the board of the school and former owner of Niu Construction Company on Kaua‘i. Up to 20 children and their parents attended the meeting to support the proposal.

“Forty-five students are ready to go (begin school),” Luttrell said.

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

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