Commission to take up revised coastal path permit requests

The Kaua‘i County Planning Commission on Tuesday will hear county requests to modify permits for a 4.3-mile pathway project from Kapa‘a to Kealia that has sparked criticism from residents and some Kaua’i County Council members.

The county administration has requested a permit amendment for unpermitted roofs on four rest areas, but plans to remove roofs from two other areas.

During a commission-sponsored public hearing at 1:30 p.m. at the Lihu‘e Civic Center, county officials will seek modification to a special management area use permit and shoreline setback variance permit for the proposed work.

In county documents, officials have asked for the realignment of the path south of Moikeha Bridge by the Kapa‘a Public Library, due to concerns about shoreline erosion.

The county proposed the change after a rest pavilion makai of the Kapa‘a Beach Park fell into the ocean due to erosion, forcing the county’s removal of the structure.

Doug Haigh, chief of the Public Works’ Building Division, said the realignment involves less than one-quarter mile and would be located between the Kapa‘a Beach Park and a parking lot by the shoreline.

Haigh said the county will seek permit amendments to keep roofs on four rest areas, and made an administrative decision not to keep roofs on two other rest areas.

The six rest areas became controversial because Jas Glover, the contractor, put roofs on them instead of putting shade trees around them, as had been planned. Public works officials said the landscaping was removed due to a lack of irrigation.

Councilmembers Mel Rapozo and Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho lambasted the county administration for allowing illegal and unpermitted structures to go up without proper permits.

But county officials countered by saying the planning commission approved in January 2004, a request for an SMA for nine picnic pavilions, three comfort stations at Kealia, Lihi Park and Kealia Kai Park, and rest pavilions, whose numbers and locations would be determined during the design process.

Rapozo and Iseri-Carvalho also demanded to know how the contractor could place the rest areas when the abutting shoreline was last certified by the state in 2002.

The legislators argued the certification is good for only year by law, and that the county should have relied on a more recent version before going ahead with the work.

But county officials had said the certification was as valid as it could be, and that yearly certification is not needed.

The county also will realign a part of a 1.8-mile horse trail mauka of the pedestrian and bicycle path.

Because portions of the horse trail by Kealia Beach Park are near the vegetation line and sand, “it was determined that horses on the sandy shoreline should not be encouraged, and is prohibited by the state,” according to county documents.

The county also seeks permission to eliminate an existing exit to the Kapa‘a Lookout due to safety reasons, documents state.

The county also wants to move two of nine picnic shelters due to American with Disabilities Act access concerns and view plane concerns, the documents state.

The county proposes to move the other seven picnic shelters “to consider a balance of the improvements to the site,” officials said in documents. In addition, one shelter was constructed in the wrong area, and will be relocated closer to its original location, officials said.

The work is part of a 4.3-mile bicycle and pedestrian pathway that runs along the coastline from Lihi Park next to the Waikaea Canal in Kapa‘a to Ahihi Point makai of the Kealia Kai subdivision.

The segment is part of a 16-plus-mile recreational coastal trial from Nawiliwili Harbor to Anahola that is being developed with $30 million in federal seed money, matched with the donation of land to the county. The county could tap into more federal funds with more land donations.

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