Waipouli resort plans spark concern

LIHUE — Residents living along the island’s Royal Coconut Coast say they are wary of recent changes to current plans for a large timeshare resort near Coconut MarketPlace in Waipouli.

Deborah Nantais, who lives near the proposed 335-room Coconut Beach Resort in Plantation Hale Suites, said she and some neighbors understand that resort development on the now vacant 20-acre property across the street is inevitable, but question whether the current size and scope of it is warranted.

“Obviously, this resort is designated in the correct area, and we understand that aspect of it, but I’m here to caution you about the severe impacts that this proposed development will put on this 20-acre project,” Nantais told Planning Commissioners during their Tuesday meeting, where the seven-member board reviewed recent changes to the hotel’s design plans that were presented by Coconut Beach Development, LLC, the resort’s development company.

“It’s not to say that they’re not going to be good neighbors — I’m not trying to say that to you,” Nantais said. “What I’m trying to say is that we need to have some kind of caution put up there and make sure that the mitigating impacts of a very heavy development like this be first addressed before we go forward.”

Tentative plans for the 9-acre resort include three pools, including a keiki pool and adult pool, and 12 guest room buildings, totaling 176,411 square feet and ranging from two- to four-stories in height.

Resort plans also call for the construction of 565 parking stalls for hotel guests and another 12 for general public access, more than half of which will be accommodated by a three-story parking structure near the hotel’s main entrance along Aleka Loop.

Planning Commission Chair Jan Kimura said he would like to see the 12 public parking stalls moved closer to the beach where residents sometimes fish.

“To me, what I’m seeing, and I’m just being honest with you, is you want to put the public parking far away from the guests as possible,” Kimura said. “If there were more parking maybe, but with 12 parking spaces, I really don’t see a problem with (moving it).”

Project consultant James Gomes, chief operating officer of Construction Management and Development, Inc. in Honolulu, disagreed.

“When we consider how to secure the area, not only for the public but also for the residents and stuff like that who are there, we felt that the location that it’s in provides the best location for the parking that allows for a clear and dedicated area for them to access the beach and access the fishing grounds that are there,” Gomes said.

The 335 rooms proposed for the condominium and hotel project, developers say, represent a slight decrease from the 343 rooms planned for the Waipouli project seven years ago, when it was first unveiled to county planning officials.

The Planning Commission, which has the authority to approve design changes, deferred any action until their Dec. 9 meeting. Plans to build the Coconut Beach Resort date back to 2007, when the county Planning Commission approved the construction of an apartment hotel complex with 343 multi-family units, six hotel rooms, resort amenities, 565 off-street parking stalls, a cultural preserve area, and three multi-use access paths (two vertical and one lateral).

A federal suit later filed by Coconut Beach Development, LLC, was settled with the county in June 2010 after developers and County of Kauai officials reached an accord that was approved by Planning Commissioners. Under this agreement, all applicable deadlines on Coconut Beach Resort permits were frozen until Feb. 29, 2013, according to county Planning Commission documents.

A federal court judge delivered a final decision on the case in February 2012, prompting Coconut Beach Development officials to amend their existing permits. Planning Commissioners approved the amended permits eight months later.

As a part of the federal court judgment and the conditions imposed by the Planning Commission following the judgment, Coconut Beach Resort officials have appeared before the Planning Commission at least once a year since 2012 to provide a status report on compliance with the conditions of approval for the permits.

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