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Developers want to build subdivision, keep access to beach open

LIHUE — An agreement between the County of Kauai and a land developer for the use of land to provide access and parking was deferred Wednesday during the Kauai County Council meeting.

The Grant of Pedestrian Access and Parking Easements was filed by CIRI Land Development, which wants to build 10 single-family dwelling units along Weilweli, Koloa, fronting the beach.

The Alaska real estate company wants to make sure public access is maintained.

If the grant is approved, the public will be able to use a dirt trail to the beach legally. The company will also build a seven-car public parking lot.

Additionally, the county will not be responsible for the upkeep of neither the trail nor the parking lot. Instead, that will be the responsibility of the people who buy the homes, said Jennifer Lim, attorney representing CIRI.

“The intent is that the Homeowner’s Association will be assigned the obligation to maintain the easement areas,” Lim said.

But some councilmembers say the language in the grant request is vague, which could open the county to liability if someone gets hurt along the trail.

“I don’t see anywhere where there’s a requirement that the developer or ultimate landowner has to maintain,” said Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura. “It would be too easy for them to say, ‘It’s too expensive. Why should we pay for it?’”

If someone gets hurt on the trail, it will ultimately be the county’s issue, said Council chair Mel Rapozo.

“The second this thing gets passed it is our kuleana,” he said.

Councilman Derek Kawakami asked if putting warning signs along the trail would lessen the county’s exposure to liability.

“I’m an advocate of keeping certain areas wild, rugged and free,” he said.

It will have the opposite effect, said Mike Dahilig, planning director.

“The more and more you provide improvements, signage and these types of things that formalize a path, there is more duty placed upon the county to keep it in the state,” he said.

Mauna Kea Trask, county attorney, explained further: “The more you do to an area, the more you increase your liability. So it’s a weighing of the risks.”

The next time the county discusses the grant, Rapozo said he wants to know what plans CIRI has to make the trail safe.

“I’m not asking for a paved path, but I am looking for a safe one,” he said. “Our job is to be an advocate for the people.”

The grant will be discussed by the Planning Committee on March 15.

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