County grapples with bridge stipulation

A Kaua‘i County Council Committee on Wednesday used flexibility and patience in requiring the owners of the two largest shopping centers in Kapa‘a meet a 26-year-old condition to build a pedestrian bridge over the Uhelekawawa Drainage Canal in Waipouli.

At a meeting at the historic County Building Wednesday, the council’s Planning Committee approved a draft ordinance to require the building of the pedestrian bridge within two years of approval of the legislation.

At the same time, the pedestrian bridge could be incorporated into the county’s 16-mile coastal bicycle and pedestrian pathway should the county project alignment go over the foot bridge one day.

The foot bridge was intended to allow pedestrians to walk between the Kauai Village Shopping Center, now owned by Passco Kauai Village, and the Waipouli Town Center, owned by MHDC Partners.

But the pedestrian bridge was never built, partly due to the county’s lack of enforcement of a zoning ordinance condition that allowed for the building of the Kauai Shopping Village.

Passco representatives asked the council to delete the bridge condition, contending the widening of the Kuhio Highway in front of the Kaua‘i Shopping Village incorporated a walking path, thus making it unnecessary for another foot bridge to be built over the canal.

The full council is expected to vote on the draft ordinance at its meeting next Wednesday.

The draft bill stipulates the shopping center owners have to share the cost of building the pedestrian bridge within 24 months of the approval of the amended zoning ordinance.

The pedestrian bridge, which figures to be 10 feet wide, has to be in compliance with the Americans with Disability Act requirements, according to the legislation.

The drafters of the proposed measure also stipulated that if Passco sells the shopping center, the new buyer will assume the bridge obligation.

The county originally placed the pedestrian bridge requirement on the original owner of the Kauai Village Shopping Center, Kauai Village Associates.

The southern end of the bridge will be put between Pizza Hut and McDonald’s within the Waipouli Town Center.

The northern end of the bridge would be put on parking spaces within the Kauai Village Shopping Center.

Passco inherited the bridge condition when it bought the shopping center in 2004 for almost $27 million.

The draft ordinance also noted that if the pedestrian bridge is built as part of the county’s bicycle path, the shopping center owners must dedicate the bridge to the county when the segment of the bicycle path that includes the alignment of the pedestrian bridge is completed.

The county will then assume “perpetual maintenance” of the pedestrian bridge.

County officials wanted to incorporate the pedestrian bridge into the county’s bicycle path project as a way to garner additional matching federal funds.

But councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho said the county’s plan calls for the bicycle and pedestrian route to be located on the coastline or as close to it as possible.

Putting any part of the county project on the mountain side of the highway would contradict that intent, Iseri-Carvalho said.

Councilman Mel Rapozo wanted more assurances the bridge will be built.

He asked Passco and MHDC to execute an agreement with Kaua‘i County Public Works within 30 days from when the zoning ordinance is approved.

The agreement stipulates the shopping center owners will pay penalties for every day the bridge is not completed and opened to public beyond the 24-month completion date.

The exception would be government-generated delays.

The pedestrian bridge requirement will run with the ordinance and the signed agreement will be recorded with the state Bureau of Conveyances or the Land Court of the state of Hawai‘i.

The owners of the two shopping centers will have to comply with the condition if they plan to put in any new structures, the draft ordinance states.

The draft ordinance stipulates the county will not issue permits for any development with the two shopping centers if the bridge is not built and is not opened for public use.

The condition evaporates if the bridge is built and is opened.

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

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