Decision delayed on Coco Palms

LIHUE — Developers seeking to rebuild and reopen the historic Coco Palms Resort in Wailua have to wait at least another two more weeks before any decisions are made on their building permits.

The Kauai County Planning Commission on Tuesday was unable to make a decision on the construction plans and building permits for Coco Palms Hui LLC after only three of the seven members on the volunteer board attended the meeting. At least four members were needed to make any decision on the project permits.

Office of Boards and Commissions Administrator Paula Morikami said a quorum, or simple majority of the board, was expected before the meeting was convened on Tuesday before the fourth member called to say they couldn’t attend.

Commissioners Wayne Katayama, Jan Kimura, Amy Mendonca and Hartwell Blake did not attend the meeting.

Morikami said commissioners are asked to call county staff ahead of the meeting, if they are not able to attend, but are not required to give a reason why.

State Department of Transportation Kauai District Engineer Ray McCormick said department officials have no objections to the proposed plans to restore and redevelop the vacant resort into a 350-room hotel using its existing footprint but noted that “no major improvements are being recommended for Kuhio Highway at this time.”

“We find the concept as presented acceptable, but it should be noted that final HDOT approval will only be given upon careful analysis of existing and future traffic conditions and submittal and review of plans and other project documentation,” McCormick wrote in a letter to county planning officials.

The next planning commission meeting is scheduled Tuesday, Feb. 24 in the Moikeha Building, meeting room 2A/2B, 4444 Rice Street in Lihue.

While Coco Palms was pushed back, some supporters still offered their thoughts on the project Tuesday.

Sylvia Kuuleimomi Thacker of Granite Bay, California, said she has been coming to Kauai for nearly three decades and recalled that her son stayed at the Coco Palms during his honeymoon.

Thacker said she also remembers volunteering for the Kauai Historical Society and helping pack some of the artifacts from Grace Guslander’s collection after Hurricane Iniki struck the island in 1992 and shuttered the resort.

“I’m hoping that something will get done, and if nothing is, please tear that building down,” Thacker told county Planning Commissioners. “Driving by it every day, or almost every day when we come here, is very sad, and I could only imagine what’s going on inside that building, which affects the neighbors around it. You’ve heard from so many people over all of these years, you’ve gone over these things so many times, and I’m just hoping that something will be done.”

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