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Community to tackle General Plan Update

LIHUE — A Kauai community group unhappy with the newest edition of the General Plan Update is trying to figure out how to move forward.

“We feel that the Planning Department and the Planning Commission ignored the suggestions that were coming in from the neighborhood associations and the people of Kauai,” said John Moore, member of the Community Coalition Kauai, a group of concerned citizens that formed last year.

Originally, the group was named Kauai Community Coalition, but was recently renamed to avoid confusion with Kauai Community College.

Tonight at 6:30, the coalition is hosting a meeting at the King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School cafeteria as a way for the community to regroup, share ideas of how to prepare for the island’s future and address what they believe are shortfalls in the plan.

“The purpose of the meeting is to expand engagement by communities around Kauai, to bring an amplified and unified voice to the fact that the General Plan proposes no framework and no serious actions to manage the growth that threatens our island,” said Anne Walton, another member of CCK. “We will be discussing options and opportunities for taking back ownership of the draft General Plan before it signed off by the County Council and the mayor.”

The GPU was approved 4 to 2 by the Planning Commission on June 13. Commissioners Kanoe Ahuna and Donna Apisa voted against the GPU.

The Planning Commission has been tackling the update since the beginning of the year. It will now go to the County Council. If passed, it will go to Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. for his consideration.

The General Plan, which contains everything from protecting Kauai’s beauty and the watersheds to addressing Kapaa traffic and designing healthy and complete neighborhoods, was last updated in 2000.

A 357-page updated discussion draft was released Nov. 4, 2016, after 18 months of public outreach.

The $1.2 million project started in 2013, when the Planning Department began researching how to move forward with the update.

“Over the past year and a half, many community members from across the island worked with the Planning Department staff on developing a new General Plan that puts the needs and interests of Kauai’s residents first and foremost,” Walton said. “However, through the seven versions of the draft General Plan, the focus on community interests was lost, and those of the large landowners, developers and tourism industry ended up guiding the plan.”

“Yes, the county document does state goals in the document, (like) a sustainable island, however, the details and substance, in order to achieve those goals, are lacking,” said Gabriela Taylor, who also lives in Kapaa.

Walton, a Kapaa resident, believes the General Plan is flawed.

“The new General Plan is inconsistent in its portrayal of policies to guide growth, population projections and growth areas reflected in the land use maps in the General Plan, affecting all parts of the island,” she said. “And most of all, that local communities need to take ownership of the decisions that will have an impact on their future.”

Ka‘aina Hull, deputy planning director, said further public testimony on the GPU can be provided at Kauai County Council meetings.

“The county has held numerous meetings with the public and various community groups regarding the draft General Plan and it is in the process of being transmitted to the County Council for deliberation in August,” he said.

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