If exceptional, monkeypods stay

The county Arborist Advisory Committee yesterday approved a letter recommending the Kaua‘i County Council enact an ordinance adding a pair of monkeypods in Old Koloa Town to the exceptional tree list.

The designation would preserve the ornamental tropical trees for their historical and cultural value. There are at least 20 “exceptional trees” islandwide protected under the ordinance, which was first adopted in December 1974.

Koloa resident Louis Abrams and John Patt, representing the Koloa Community Association, testified in favor of nominating the trees as exceptional.

At the committee’s May 12 meeting, they said the joint owners of the parcel on which the trees are situated — Honpa Hongwanji Mission and Koloa Early School — have no objections to the recommendation.

Committee Chair Gabrielle Young says in the letter to the council that “the two monkeypod trees are ideal specimens of older monkeypod trees and satisfy the exceptional tree criteria based on their location, size and aesthetic quality.”

Later in the morning meeting at the Mo‘ikeha Building, the five-member committee approved letters to the county attorney asking for the office’s help in drafting two ordinances.

One of the proposed amendments to the county code would protect any tree from damage and/or removal while it is under county review and consideration for designation as an exceptional tree.

The other would establish a real property tax exemption for owners who have an exceptional tree on their property.

Young said the rationale

behind the proposed tax break is at least three-fold. It would provide financial incentive for land owners to apply for more trees to be tagged as exceptional, it would cause them to take better care of these trees and it would send a message that the county values its status as the Garden Island.

The committee deferred making a decision on a second petition from the Koloa Community Association concerning another monkeypod tree in town.

The association has requested adding to the exceptional tree list a large monkeypod that straddles the property line of a private landowner, Grove Farm, and the site of the proposed Koloa Marketplace office and shopping complex.

Letters from attorney Gary Grimmer, who represents the developer, say the petition should be denied because Koloa Marketplace won a federal court order in September 2007 granting it the right to remove, replace or relocate the 37 monkeypod trees on its project site.

Roughly 20 percent of the tree’s trunk and some 40 percent of its canopy encroaches onto the proposed development site, owned by Knudsen Estate, according to county documents.

Abrams, who serves as president of the Koloa Community Association, said the developer’s landscape and site plans show the center of the tree to be outside the boundary of the parcel in question.

The plans show the tree’s broad canopy covering proposed parking stalls, a driveway and propane tank.

The Kaua‘i County Council passed the ordinance for the preservation of exceptional trees to protect scenic and historic resources so the island will maintain its rural character and continue to attract visitors, the ordinance states.

The committee’s next meeting is at 1:30 p.m., July 7, at a location yet to be announced.

For more information, visit www.kauai.gov

• Nathan Eagle, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or neagle@kauaipubco.com

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