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Commission quashes moratorium discussion

LIHU‘E — In line with Kaua‘i County Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura’s call for a temporary moratorium on the issuance of permits for resorts, residents Tuesday asked members of the Kaua‘i County Planning Commission to invoke that power for a resort proposed in Po‘ipu by officials with Kiahuna Poipu Golf Resort.

But Commissioner Randal Nishimura shot down the request, partly because it was not directly linked to the proposed project and was not part of Tuesday’s public-hearing proceedings. To discuss it would have been in violation of the state open-meetings (sunshine) law, Nishimura indicated.

Nishimura made his stand after some residents warned approval of the permits will translate into more traffic congestion and more infrastructure problems for South Kaua‘i.

The issue of the pending bill came up as commissioners conducted a public hearing on Kiahuna’s proposal to develop a 28-acre resort mauka of Po‘ipu Road, in the Lihu‘e Civic Center Mo‘ikeha Building first-floor conference room.

The proposed project includes 280 multi-family units, two single-family units, a clubhouse, a retreat center, restaurant, pool-side bar and grill, a maintenance facility and separate garages. A separate sales and construction trailer also is planned.

Audience members Ken Taylor and Branch Harmony said approving permits for the project and others whose developers also have the zoning and are awaiting the issuance of county permits will create health and safety issues for residents.

Taylor and Harmony said commissioners are duty-bound to do right by residents.

But the power to force the commissioners to temporarily halt the issuance of permits rests with the Kaua‘i County Council, said Kaua‘i Planning Director Ian Costa.

Taylor said the county Planning Department can get the process moving by sending a letter to the council, and that “we have been waiting several months (for the department) to do that, and you have neglected to do that.”

Harmony said halting the issuance of the permit for the proposed project is a necessity because “traffic is beyond acceptable limits.”

Nishimura said the moratorium issue was not something he was going to take up.

“We are not going to talk moratorium here on out,” he said, adding that supporters of the bill can voice their views when it gets to the council floor. “It will probably get done in the next two months.”

Yukimura said the Po‘ipu-Koloa-Kalaheo area has been hit hard by rampant and uncontrolled growth in recent years, and that the legislation she will pose calls for a temporary cessation on the issuance of permits until county leaders have approved the county’s updated development plan for the region.

The bill would not apply to people building homes, though.

Kaua‘i resident Puanani Rogers said she was not against the developer, consultants for the project or the county planners who worked on the Kiahuna proposal, nor was she opposing the project.

Her preference, she said, is to hold off on approving the project until more traffic-impact studies can be done.

“Maybe we won’t say stop completely, but how about putting it on hold?” Rogers asked.

Greg Kamm, a representative for the developer, thanked Rogers for being more critical of the process rather than of the developer.

But he noted that to stop or delay the issuance of permits for the project will “delay solutions.”

The developer is willing to contribute to traffic solutions, make financial contributions to develop the northern leg of a western bypass road from the ocean to Koloa to help with vehicular circulation in South Kaua‘i, has developed a pedestrian-circulation plan related to its project, and will only use Hapa Road in emergencies, Kamm said.

As for a state Public Utilities Commission-regulated wastewater treatment plant the proposed development would tap into, the developer has contributed about $3 million to upgrade it even though odor problems and other problems persist, Kamm said.

If problems still exist, more problems are likely to crop up with more resorts linking up to the waste-treatment plant, Commissioner Steven Weinstein noted.

The hearing has been continued until June 13.

The Planning Commission also was to conduct public hearings on other proposals:

• Koloa Marketplace has plans to build a commercial shopping center with office buildings on 7.5 acres and on another 27,000-square-foot parcel located east of the intersection of Maluhia and Koloa roads. Within the project is planned a 76,200-square-foot retail complex.

The Koloa Post Office building also would be relocated on the lower level of a new building that will be built farther back and north from Koloa Road, according to county Planning Department documents.

A small number of residents have said that while they generally support the project, a smaller project would be better.

Historic Koloa Village plans to build a 31-unit condominium project and other improvements, and develop 45,500 square feet of commercial structures within 5.4 acres across the street from the Koloa Marketplace project.

In Planning Department documents, Historic Koloa Village representatives have said they want to restore commercial and residential vitality to parts of the Koloa town core with the project.

The plan calls for the blending of multifamily residential homes and general commercial uses, with minor deviations.

Lester Chang, staff writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or lchang@kauaipubco.com.

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