LIHUE — Greg Allen, developer of Hokua Place, said he doesn’t think a two-week extension for the comment period of the general plan discussion draft matters.
“I’m not sure if the Planning Department is really listening,” he said.
Residents have until Dec. 16 to provide written testimony to the Planning Department about any commentary they might have.
The date was extended after the department received several requests for additional review time, said Marie Williams, community planning program manager.
To date, the Planning Department has received over 1,000 comments about the draft, ranging in topics from the framework of the plan to the land use map, she said.
“Many of the comments indicate to the department that by basing the discussion draft on an 18-month long listening process, many of the topics of interest to the public have been identified and addressed to a degree of accuracy,” she said. “However, the comments do indicate areas we still need to refine.”
Because the department is halfway through the comment period, they declined to provide a list of proposed changes. But all comments will be available online once the comment period closes, Williams said.
The general plan was last updated in 2000. The 357-page draft update was released Nov. 4 by the Planning Department and contains a vision, goals, policies, actions and land-use maps intended to guide Kauai’s future growth.
As a way to educate the public about the county’s vision and ways to achieve it, the department hosted a series of open houses about the plan.
About 200 residents attended those meetings, which took place around the island. They had until Dec. 2 to provide their comments. After the last open house, officials decided to extend the comment period.
While Anne Walton, a Kapaa resident who has a career in natural resource management in the area of policy and planning, said she appreciates the extension, she was hoping it would be longer.
“Given the breadth and depth of the document, and considering it is 357 pages long, we would have liked to have seen an even longer comment period. Both individuals and communities, including neighborhood associations and community organizations, are organizing in order to take a more collaborative approach to providing collective input to the county on the document,” she said. “This takes time to coordinate as everyone has their own busy schedule.”
Some residents are also in the process of meeting with experts to get their input, she added.
“So, needless to say, we still have some concerns over whether this is ample time to provide the level of input we were hoping for,” she said.
Other Kauai residents believe extending the deadline won’t solve anything.
“Two more weeks — or two more years — isn’t going to make any difference unless the Planning Department removes its blinders and earplugs,” said Carl Imparato, who lives in Hanalei.
Imparato believes the general plan is lacking in ways to address an increase in tourism and how it will effect the Garden Isle.
“The draft general plan’s approach to tourism expansion is business-as-usual. Instead of proposing actions to keep the amount of tourism growth from exceeding undesirable levels and overwhelming roads, beach parks and residents, the draft plan’s policy is to accommodate as much as the worldwide market demands,” he said.
Allen cited the removal of his housing project, Hokua Place, which will provide single-family, multi-family and affordable residential housing options in Kapaa, from the general plan as an example.
“The Planning Department has 127 comments in favor of Hokua place from just one public meeting. The comments are on the Plan Kauai website and only one is against it,” he said. “For years the public has endorsed housing and affordable housing in this area during a multitude of meetings, yet the planning department recommends removing it from the general plan.”
The new plan recommends increasing population into Anahola to create a new urban center, but Hokua Place is better than Anahola because the development donates a section of Kapaa Bypass Road and provides walking and bike paths to connect to Kapaa Town, Allen said.
“I cannot figure out what the planning department is thinking,” Allen said. “All we can do is try to make our voices heard.”
The department will also be hosting two additional open houses on the discussion draft:
w Dec. 5 at the Waimea Theatre from 6 to 8 p.m.
w Dec. 6 at the Princeville Library from 10 a.m. to noon.
After Dec. 16, the public will still have the chance to provide comment, when it goes to the Kauai County Council for approval, Williams said.
“The commission and council will both hold public hearings on the plan. Testimony and proposed amendments from community members will continue to be incorporated into the document at commission and council meetings,” she said.
The discussion draft is available at www.plankauai.com. Printed copies can also be accessed at the public libraries.
Comments to the draft can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to: Kauai County Planning Department, Attn: Long Range Division; 4444 Rice Street, Suite A473, Lihue, HI 96766.