The County Liquor Control Commission denied a liquor license application for a controversial establishment in Nawiliwili Thursday afternoon.
Dubbed a multi-purpose facility by its backers and a nightclub by opponents, the proposal drew fierce opposition from residents who claimed another bar in the troubled harbor area was the last thing they needed.
In the end, it came down to a technicality.
“It was not a situation where the commission had discretion,” said commission Director Eric Honma.
Hawai‘i liquor laws state that if more than 50 percent of residents living within a 500-foot radius of the proposed site object in writing, the commission has no choice but to reject the application.
When the meeting began Thursday afternoon, however, chief opponent Steve Layne, owner of the Garden Island Inn, realized the committee only had 52 letters, or 47 percent opposition. Layne said he had 61 letters, well over 50 percent.
“I thought, ‘Oh, no,’” Layne said. “But (the commission) had overhead screens showing the exact map, and spent a lot of time verifying the owners of (nearby) properties.”
A surprise owner turned out to be Kaua‘i High School, which owns an auxiliary parking lot east of campus that came within 500 feet of the site. The liquor statutes mandate that only 40 percent written opposition is needed if a school falls within the 500-foot radius.
“The language of the statute states that the commission has no option but to deny,” Honma said.
• Ford Gunter, staff writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 251) or firstname.lastname@example.org.