Key hearing for Kukui‘Ula project set

A proposal by Kukuiula Development Co. (Hawai‘i) LLC to develop South Kaua‘i’s largest resort/residential project will be the subject of a county Planning Commission public hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 14.

Within the 1,002 acres at Kukui‘ula, the developers are proposing to develop a maximum of 1,500 units, including a 64-room hotel, an 18-hole golf course, recreational facilities, 26 acres for commercial uses, parks and open spaces. An additional 60 affordable housing units also will be built by Po‘ipu Road.

The developers also are asking to expand a “visitor designation area” designation by the county from 160 acres to 1002 acres to allow for vacation rentals and time share units.

The time share units will be limited to about 106 acres within the resort, according to a county Planning Department document.

The details of the proposal are to be unveiled during a public hearing scheduled at 1:30 p.m. at the Lihu‘e Civic Center.

Subsidiaries of Alexander & Baldwin and DMB Associates Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz. formed Kukuiula Development Co. (Hawaii) to develop the project.

The developers are asking the commission to amend the zoning designations for the land from resort, open, commercial, agricultural, special treatment districts to residential, resort, open, commercial and special treatment districts. If the zoning is changed, the project would have less density.

The proposal initially called for a maximum of 3,400 units, an 18-hole golf course, commercial areas, and a 77-acre “resort core,” according to a county planning department report.

The resort core is currently zoned for a 200-room hotel and two time share projects consisting of a maximum of 500 units, a 4-acre commercial area, a lagoon and supporting amenities, the report noted.

The single-family lots ranged from five to six units per acre on level areas, and three to four units per acre on slopes.

The current zoning also allows for the development of 10 to 20 units per acre, with the units to be developed through a project area, the planning department report noted.

The application before the planning commission would reduce the density of the project by more than 50 percent, Theodore E. Liu, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, said in a letter to the Kaua‘i County Planning Director Ian Costa.

Liu said the Land Use Commission in July approved a request from the developers to revise a master plan to allow for the lower density.

Liu also noted that the project’s emphasis is shifting from that of a luxury residential development to one of vacation rental and time share units.

Some residents have objected to time share projects because of the influx of visitors to areas with the units. The transiency nature of vacation rentals and time share units changes the neighborhood feel of communities, some residents have complained.

The developers, however, seem willing to address the need for more affordable housing in south Kaua‘i, an issue Kaua‘i Sen. Gary Hooser raised in his review of the proposed development.

In addition to the 60 affordable housing units planned, the developers said 176 affordable housing units have already been developed.

Owners of elegant homes that line Lawai Road raised concerns the project, if approved, is likely to generate more traffic problems for the South Shore.

In a letter to commission chairwoman Sandi Kato-Klutke, some said the county should realize the “tremendous impact” the development will have on Po‘ipu.

The letter was assigned by J. Greg Schredder, Albert Abramson, an attorney, Elsworth Purdy, Frank Ritchey and Dr. Eugene Kearney.

The critics noted that road conditions on Lawai Road are unsafe, that a proposed access road will worsen traffic conditions leading to Spouting Horn, a top visitor attraction in south Kaua‘i, and that homeowners already have difficulty accessing their driveways off Lawai Road.

Those signing the letter asked that construction traffic not be routed on Lawai Road at anytime and asked construction of a western by-pass road be underway at the time the developers start work on the infrastructure for the proposed project.

The project has its roots from the 1980s. In the mid-1980s, the LUC reclassified 219 acres of the 1,002-acre project from agricultural to urban use.

In 1995, the LUC approved “incremental redistricting” for another 783 acres.

Action this year by the LUC allowed another 246 acres to be urbanized, opening the way for the entire 1002-acre project to develop at one time. Among other government agencies, the Kaua‘i County Council will have to approve the project before it can move forward.

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

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