PUHI — The county is considering creating a university district for Kauai Community College.
The request is coming from the Planning Department.
“If land use commission does approve KCC and Island School’s petition, they’re going to come to county for a map change, and we’re trying to get ahead of application because there’s nothing that fits the bill,” said Planning Director Mike Dahilig.
Island School wants to reclassify 38.4 acres of land to urban to build more facilities to accommodate a growing student enrollment.
Currently, there are 370 students, but that number is expected to increase to 500. The school also wants to add 22 full-time positions.
The state Land Use Commission is expected to make a decision on the proposal in July.
KCC wants to reclassify 148.5 acres of land to urban use, but school officials said they have no immediate plans to use the land for campus expansion or to build facilities.
Establishing a university district doesn’t immediately change the map, but if KCC and Island School get the urban zone, they would have to receive approval from the Kauai County Council, Dahilig said.
“This will give them opportunity to come before council and request a map change,” he said.
According to a director’s report, the comprehensive zoning ordinance doesn’t have a district that recognizes university and college campuses.
“Right now, the zoning district doesn’t seem to follow type of mixed usages that accompany university activities,” he said. “Student housing is why we feel uncomfortable asking for map change now. Then there’s the book store, which has retail activity.”
Brandon Shimokawa, vice chancellor for administrative services at KCC said the designation gives the college room to grow.
“It sets expectation that dorms are a possibility,” he said. “It will give the college a little bit more flexibility in the permitting process to allow us to build up the campus and pursue our educational mission.”
The measure isn’t pushing through any specific building. Additionally, there are no concrete plans to add dorms, Shimokawa said.
A university district would streamline the process if KCC decides to build dormitories, Dahilig added.
If the college decides to build dormitories, school officials would have to apply for a variance, use and special permits, he said.
But if the university district is approved, school officials would have to apply for a zoning ordinance to change the map. Then, they would have to go through environmental entitlements and apply for a building permit.
“It’s an overall campus plan, as compared to piecemeal planning,” Dahilig said.
A university district will provide the framework for if and when KCC decides to expand in the future, Shimokawa said.
“Any kind of measure that will make it easier to get permits and permission for the campus to support programs, we’re 100 percent in support of,” he said. “We’re very thankful for looking out for our’s and the community’s best interest, and we think the bill will that do that.”
The creation of a university district is also in keeping with the 2000 General Plan, which set education goals like providing degrees for local students and pursuing a four-year university status, according to the report.
And, in the draft of the 2017 General Plan Update, it is noted that a university zone would promote “growth and development” of the university’s campus, its programs, and its student enrollment.”
A public hearing on the proposal, also known as Bill No. 2655, is scheduled June 28.