Sustainable planning on Kaua‘i to get helping hand

The American Institute of Architects has selected Kaua‘i as one of 10 communities nationwide to receive the volunteer services of a Sustainable Development Assessment Team.

The Lihu‘e district will be the focus of the project, which offers communities help in developing improved process and framework for district development plans centered on sustainability and smart growth. The outcomes are expected to be useful in the upcoming update of the Lihu‘e Development Plan.

Kaua‘i County, the Lihu‘e Business Association and Kaua‘i Planning & Action Alliance jointly submitted a proposal to the institute. Ideas for new technologies and processes that facilitate expanded community participation were also requested.

A preliminary site visit was conducted late last month in preparation for the team visit in November.

Peter Arsenault, an architect and national vice president of the AIA, and Erin Simmons, director of the AIA’s Center for Communities by Design, met with government, business and community leaders for a preliminary look at the most important issues for the Lihu‘e district. Over three days they took two tours of the district and held 17 meetings with almost 60 people representing different sectors of the community.

Based on the findings of their visit, six areas were identified for more in-depth exploration by the full Sustainable Design Assessment Team in mid-November. Topics to be explored include land use, housing and affordability, energy efficiency and alternative energy, transportation and transit, economic development and water.

Arsenault and Simmons will select professionals with expertise in at least one of these six areas for the project. For objectivity, the experts are not from Hawai‘i and they receive no pay for their work.

The Nov. 12 to 14 meetings will gather community input, share information and formulate recommendations for the new community planning model. A written report will be prepared and submitted by the first quarter 2009.

The project is supported by funding from the American Institute of Architects. In addition, KPAA has secured grants from the county and the Group 70 Foundation.

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