Residents petition against Grove Farm roadwork on Nuhou

LIHU‘E — Residents of the UIu Ko subdivision want to keep peace in their neighborhood and traffic out.

They recently asked the Kaua‘i County Council to hold Grove Farm Company responsible for a pledge to expand Nuhou Road from two to four lanes and to connect Kaumuali‘i Highway with Niumalu Road near Nawiliwili Harbor.

The residents are equally upset over Grove Farm’s plans to extend Nuhou Road 1,500 feet to Aheahe Street and Nawiliwili Road, and to install signal lights at the intersection.

Ulo Ko residents said government approval will bring unwanted traffic into the neighborhood, ruin their tranquil lifestyle and force down property values.

Grove Farm vice president Marissa Sandblom said the council has already approved the planned work.

“The Nuhou (Road) alignment to intersect Nawiliwili Road at Aheahe Street was unanimously approved by the county council in 2002,” Sand-blom states in an e-mail. “Grove Farm plans to develop a two-lane road, with traffic-calming features, off of Nuhou (Road) that will connect to Nawiliwili Road via Niumalu Road. This will provide connectivity between the Kukui Grove commercial area, our future subdivisions and Nawiliwili.”

Sandblom said company leaders have received comments from critics and supporters.

“Both sides have come to meet with us to discuss different perspectives,” she said.

Grove Farm vice president Michael Furukawa said the company sympathizes with the concerns of critics, but noted the proposed improvements will help Grove Farm remain economically viable.

In addition, the shorter Nuhou Road spur to the intersection is a requirement of a 2002 zoning amendment for 43 acres, in which some of the current improvements are proposed, Furukawa said.

The proposed road improvements are part of a zoning amendment Grove Farm sent to the council to change the zoning of land by Nuhou Road from open to residential use for a new 18-lot subdivision east of the Puakea Golf Course entrance.

More than 230 residents have signed a petition opposing the proposed roadwork and have asked the council to deny the zoning amendment requested by Grove Farm.

Ulo Ko residents insist the council require Grove Farm to comply with its original development plans for the expansion of Nuhou Road from Kaumuali‘i Highway to Niumalu Road. The intent behind that plan was to accommodate growth in the Lihu‘e and Puhi region.

Among other key concerns listed in the petition documents, critics said:

• A public notice for the proposed work misidentified Nuhou Road as Nohou Road. Because the name of the road was unfamiliar to them, Ulu Ko residents said they didn’t pay much attention to the proposed work.

Furukawa, who met with some critics last year, said the misidentification may have been a typographical error made by county officials who put out the notice.

Furukawa indicated the company is not trying to hide the scope of the work from the public.

• A traffic impact analysis was inaccurate, “betraying a professional indifference and commercial bias;”

• Grove Farm leaders have said Nuhou Road will be a major traffic conduit for their projects in Lihu‘e and Puhi, and have an ethical responsibility to follow through on their representations, which people relied upon when they bought homes at the Ulu Ko subdivision;

• The Nuhou Road spur would dramatically cut down the size of a county park it would have to go over to connect with Nawiliwili Road and Aheahe Street. Before the new side road is built, Furukawa said Grove Farm will set aside other land to keep the park about the same size as it is now;

• Grove Farm leaders say building the 1,500-foot spur would be cheaper than building out 5,200 feet of road on Nuhou Road, but continue to pursue plans to build an exclusive 18-lot subdivision by Nuhou Road;

• Residents were concerned about the dire financial situation of Grove Farm at one time, but that situation changed when Steve Case, who founded the company that became America Online, bought thousands of acres in Lihu‘e and Puhi owned by Grove Farm and the Kukui Grove Shopping Center, the island’s largest commercial center;

• Government officials should monitor all projects Grove Farm has moved on in the Lihu‘e and Puhi areas.

Sandblom said other Grove Farm officials were not able to respond to all the grievances by yesterday afternoon.

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

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