Waipouli resorts dealt a minor blow

The Kaua‘i Planning Commission this week backed the conditions it set out in January that must be met by two resort developers on the Eastside.

Residents far beyond the Wailua-Kapa‘a corridor area have voiced concern over the size and scope of the two Waipouli resorts, saying traffic and the rural feel of the island will forever be altered for the worse.

During a meeting at the Lihu‘e Civic Center Tuesday, the commission denied Coconut Plantation Holdings’ request to modify or delete conditions in permits it approved January. Coconut Beach Development withdrew a similar request after the decision.

Both developers will have to comply with key conditions to collectively provide $5.4 million to extend Pouli Road to Wailua Houselots, submit a design review for commission approval, develop a 10-foot-wide, multi-use, concrete pathway along the coastline and substantially construct the project and infrastructure within one year of the approval of permits. The commission approved them last month.

Coconut Plantation wanted to use the $5.4 million to extend Pouli Road only to the temporary Kapa‘a Bypass Road and use remaining funds for other traffic relief projects, develop a 6-foot path, share the cost of the infrastructure improvements and obtain permits for infrastructure within one year from the approval of permits in January.

The developers have said the extension of Pouli Road to Wailua Houselots works against them, as the condemnation of land would exceed the $5.4 million they have offered. The developers also have said they want to mitigate traffic from their projects, but object to helping to fund traffic relief for an entire region.

Commissioner Imai Aiu said the requests from the developers stunned him.

He said he and county planner Michael Laureta worked long and hard to fashion the conditions, and the requests lacked rationale.

“If any of this is going away, this is not an acceptable project,” Aiu said of any commission action to comply with the requests.

Gabriela Taylor of Kapa‘a said the request amounted to an “audacious act that is unacceptable.”

In a letter to the commission, Laura Marsh, interim president of the Wailua-Kapa‘a Neighborhood Association, said the requests eliminate a design review process to downsize the project, as requested by Aiu and Commissioner Sandy Kato-Klutke.

“The monstrous size of these resorts will deliver the knockout blow to Kaua‘i,” said Richard Moll, a Kapa‘a resident who read the letter in Marsh’s absence.

Expressing similar sentiments, David Dinner, president of the 1,000 Friends of Kaua‘i, said allowing the two “Goliath” developments will permanently change not only the small-town pace of Waipouli but the rural lifestyle of Kaua‘i.

Coconut Plantation’s project would unfold on 12 acres, and the Coconut Beach project involves 20 acres.

Elaine Valois of Kapa‘a said the commission should stick to its original decision. “I implore you to use your wide-angle lens and act as you are — the wisdom-keeper of this island.”

In her letter, Marsh said the developers’ request opens the doorway for the commission to rescind the original permits. “We are asking you take the additional step.”

Commission Chairman Ted Daligdig III said the commission could consider rescinding the permits but only if the developers do not comply with the conditions.

The 1,000 Friends filed a lawsuit in January alleging the Planning Commission could not allow the projects to proceed without an environmental assessment.

The case is set for a March 1 court date.

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

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