Coastal pavilions up for discussion

The county administration will ask the county Planning Commission to approve Special Management Area Use permits for six contested rest area pavilions along the coastline in East Kaua‘i today, county engineer Donald Fujimoto said.

Administration officials and the Kaua‘i County Council are likely to continue the debate on that issue at a 9 a.m. meeting today at the historic County Building.

Work on the project came to a halt recently because of concerns by some council members the county used an outdated state certification of the shoreline for the structures and the legality of the work.

The work is part of a 4.3-mile bicycle and pedestrian pathway that runs from Kealia Beach to Ahihi Point. It is the second phase of a 16-plus-mile recreational coastal trail from Ahukini to Anahola that is being funded with more than $30 million in federal funds, matched with county in-kind funds.

The huge project has drawn general support from residents, but a small number of critics say the money would be better spent building roads to alleviate long-standing traffic on Kuhio Highway between Kapa‘a town and the Wailua Bridge.

Related to the 4.3 mile leg, county administration officials said the commission had approved in January 2004, a request for an SMA for nine picnic pavilions by Kealia Beach, three comfort stations at Kealia, Lihi Park and Kealia Kai Park and rest pavilions, whose numbers and locations would be determined during a design process.

Ultimately, six rest pavilions were identified and were placed along the shoreline by contractor Jas Glover.

The pavilions became controversial because the contractor put roofs on them instead of putting shade trees around them, as had been planned.

The council members demanded to know how the contractor, with county approval, could place the rest pavilions last year when the shoreline was certified by the state in November 2002.

Council members Mel Rapozo and Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho argued the certification is good for only one year, and that the county should have relied on a more updated version before going ahead with the work.

Fujimoto said, however, the certification was done six months before the county applied to the county Planning Commission for a Special Management Area Use permit in February 2003, as required by the planning process.

“Section 6 of a government rule validates the shoreline certification,” he said.

County officials said the shoreline erodes and that the county can’t legally or responsibly rely on a dated shoreline certification.

Glover requested a building permit in January 2006, and was issued one two months later. Work began in May 2006.

Work came to a halt this fall because the six pavilions were not covered by the original SMA permit.

In recent weeks, Deputy County Attorney James Itamura said the work appeared to be illegal, based on an interpretation on a shoreline-related lawsuit Kaua‘i resident Caren Diamond had filed that had gone to the Hawai‘i Supreme Court.

Fujimoto said it was his impression that, “he was pushed into an interpretation of the work as being illegal, based on the Diamond case.”

The County Attorney’s Office, however, has determined the entire project is legal, except for the six pavilions.

The contractor attached roofs to provide the highest benefit to users, county officials said.

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

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