Longs Drugs seeks new store approval

LIHUE — The Kauai Planning Commission carried a decision into Tuesday night on whether it will grant permits to allow CVS Longs Drugs to develop a 23,000-square-foot store on a coconut grove protected by the county’s Exceptional Tree Ordinance.

The commission had a full agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, but most of their day was filled by Longs’ request. At 6:30 p.m., Chair Wayne Katayama recessed the meeting for a dinner break, and took up the issue at 7:30 p.m., with the developers set on staying as long as it would take to reach a decision.

The outcome of the meeting came after The Garden Island’s deadline.

“Help us preserve our beauty, our heritage,” Margaret Chen Palazolo said to the commissioners.

Palazolo and a number of other condo owners at Plantation Hale had concerns with noise, traffic, flooding and alteration of a grove which belongs to an area on Kauai’s Eastside known as the Royal Coconut Coast.

Plantation Hale owners were opposed to a drive-through pharmacy and a potential 24/7 retail operation 75 feet away from their condos.

Jerry Nishek, of Kauai Nursery and Landscaping, said the centenary coconut trees are dying. About half of the original 163 trees on the lot are gone, and 10 are in extreme decline and should be replaced soon. Some of the trees have been replanted, bringing the number to 103.

The developers plan to recreate the plantation feel of the area by replanting rows of coconut trees in the 97-stall parking lot, he said.

Longs is also willing to replace dying trees with 15-foot trees and plant saplings near the taller trees in good health, so when they have to be removed, another tree will take over the spot.

In all, Nishek said there will be more than the current 103 trees on the property.

Developers said impacts to the traffic are not significant enough, according to state highway standards, to warrant placing a traffic light in front of the store, though Longs wants one and is willing to finance at least part of it.

The project is not supported by the Kapaa Business Association.

Neill Sams of KBA testified against the project, citing several points in the county Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance that would block approval of the project.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or lazambuja@thegardenisland.com

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