Extending for the future

LIHUE — Tony Ricci has big plans for his home in the Kekaha Sunset subdivision.

Before a law permitting the construction of additional dwelling units on nonresidential properties was discontinued seven years ago, Ricci and his wife applied for the proper forms to build one so their now 28-year-old son and his family can afford to live on Kauai.

But things took a turn in 2011, when Ricci was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him with serious injuries.

“When the sunset law came down and started looking like there was a deadline, then trying to expedite the finances to build on that became basically impossible for us,” said Ricci, who has lived in Kekaha for 24 years.

Ricci is one of the nearly 330 nonresidential property owners who still hold an active form to build an additional dwelling unit, commonly known as ADUs. But the Great Recession, coupled with other economic factors, prevented some permit holders, like Ricci, from following through with their plans.

With the expiration date for those forms approaching on Dec. 15, Ricci and other ADU permit holders are asking county officials to pass a measure that will give them another 10 years to build their accessory dwelling units. That measure, Bill 2545, will be taken up by the Kauai County Council for first reading at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Historic County Building Council Chambers.

The county’s Planning Commission, meanwhile, gave their stamp of approval on the extension proposal last month.

“For us, it’s a very emotional situation because we cannot afford to lose our investment, so hopefully we can extend this so that our retirement plans can become do-able; otherwise, how can we retire here? Our son can’t stay here,” Ricci said. “This is our future and we planned for it very well until the little rug got pulled out.”

Council Chair Jay Furfaro, the bill’s introducer, said extending the ADU form expiration date will help to bolster construction jobs on the island and provide residents with opportunities to build now that the local economy is improving.

A version of the bill passed by the Planning Commission recommends that form holders pay a one-time, $500 regulatory fee to annually re-certify that their property still meets all of the proper requirements.

County Planning Director Michael Dahilig, meanwhile, recommended that the proposal include an initial $500 registration fee in 2015 and a $200 renewal fee for each year afterward.

Written comments can be sent to counciltestimony@kauai.gov.


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