Opposition MIA at Kilauea plan meeting

LIHU’E — Kilauea residents want more affordable housing, a new middle school and new professional and business offices built.

A lack of developable lands in Kilauea town led to a shortage of housing and other development.

Those key points are reflected in a draft plan for Kilauea that was the subject of a public hearing members of the Kaua’i Planning Commission scheduled yesterday afternoon at the Lihu’e Civic Center.

Folks gave their opinions on a draft development plan for Kilauea town that would accommodate growth on 53 privately-owned acres west of Kilauea town.

The draft Kilauea Town Plan was developed because of the realization by residents that there exists little or no land in the town core that could be used for urban development.

The plan, if adopted, will allow town residents to develop their own identities, giving a sense of civic pride and place to residents young and new, residents and county planners agreed.

The county-funded draft plan, with recommendations by members of the Kaua’i County Planning Commission, will move to members of the Kaua’i County Council for action, once approved by commissioners.

If the document is approved, the draft development plan for Kilauea is likely to be implemented.

There was no opposition to the plan at yesterday’s public hearing.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, Kilauea town had been a bedroom community to the neighboring Princeville resort and businesses in Hanalei town, having provided generations of workers for businesses in those resort-related areas.

As part of the work that went into the development of the Kilauea town draft plan, residents voiced a critical need for more affordable housing, office spaces for doctors and professionals, an auto-repair shop, and, to meet increased recreational needs of a growing community, regulation soccer and baseball fields.

Building affordable housing is a top concern for residents of every island community, and it is no different for folks in Kilauea, said Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste and Keith Nitta, a senior planner with the Kaua’i County Planning Department, during a press conference last week when the draft plan was discussed.

For the plan, folks also voiced concerns about increases in property values, the spread of “gentlemen’s estates,” transportation needs, a safer way for vehicles to enter the town, safe places for walking, and needed areas in which to ride bicycles.

Folks also were concerned about protecting scenic resources and access to natural areas, and the town character, which harks back to the slow-paced ways of the plantation era.

Folks also communicated to officials in the Baptiste administration the need for more commercial services, and the possibility of a future middle-school site.

Currently, the only public school located in the town is Kilauea School, an elementary school.

Officials with Baptiste’s administration wanted to make sure they got in touch with every Kilauea resident who would be affected by the plan.

The first public meeting was held earlier this year, when members of the planning team were introduced to the public, the plan was introduced, technical background was provided, the planning process and schedule were discussed, and residents were asked to participate in “breakout sessions” and exercises.

The first meeting, which drew 140 participants, was followed by three other public meetings.

A five-day planning session was subsequently held, involving public officials, planners, architects, large landowners and residents who viewed information that had been gathered for the plan.

The development of the plan included a “visual-response survey” in which residents were shown 30 images, and were asked to rate what they liked.

More than 150 folks participated in the survey, some through the county’s Web site, www.kauai.gov, and some by mail.

Residents had “little disagreement” over their liking images of natural settings and buildings and places with rich historical ties, and projects apparently deemed to be of public benefit, Baptiste and Nitta said.

Among them were the open spaces around Kilauea, the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, the Kilauea School, and a farmers’ market.

Residents voiced dislike for images of multi-family town-house projects that are found on Kaua’i, and untidy industrial areas.

The drafters of the plan discovered that views expressed in the visual survey were consistent with the top issues brought out in public meetings, Baptiste and Nitta said.

Nitta has said the town plan is intended to be a policy document to support the 2000 Kaua’i General Plan Update. That update and the current draft town plan were both developed by planners with the O’ahu-based Plan Pacific Inc.

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