PRINCEVILLE — The newest proposal for the Princeville plateau is a step in the right direction according to some community members, but it’s not perfect.
The North Shore Preserve was introduced on Wednesday afternoon by developers The Resort Group LLC and East West Partners — a 1,000 acre preserve that would include 75 oceanside, multi-acre home sites on about 650 of those acres.
Representatives from the partnership said the North Shore Preserve is an “evolution of the vision” developer Jeff Stone began more than 15 years ago to “reimagine the crown jewel of Kauai’s North Shore.”
It’s a tweak of the partners’ July proposal that would result in a residential ranch and agricultural community located at Princeville and some say it’s a step toward cooperation with the community.
“It is exciting to hear of Stone’s willingness to work with community members to create a new plan,” said community member Jennifer Luck. “The current proposal does not require the outdated resort designation on the General Plan so it will be great to see the landowner support its compete removal before council.“
But, she said key elements are missing for Stone’s plan to completely address community needs.
Those elements include public access, protection of open undeveloped lands at Anini, helping area families to keep their lands, moving the county transfer station to a new site away from the stream and providing a park and ride to relieve congestion at Haena state park and throughout the north shore.
Kau‘i Fu, north shore resident and granddaughter of Ah Meng Fu, ranch foreman of the old Princeville Ranch said she’d like to see the land on the Princeville plateau dedicated to resident families instead of making a preserve on the North Shore.
“This questions my definition of what a preserve truly is. Besides being low-density, how will this preserve and perpetuate our local Hawaiian community’s history and practices of ranching and farming,” she said. “And how will this preserve our community’s connection to place?”
The idea that the development won’t cater to Kauai’s residents and local families is a concern mirrored throughout the minds of several community members.
Andy Sutton, Hawaii Partner of East West Partners, said the focus is mainly the high-end residential, agricultural community — specifically on second homeowners.
“I would certainly hope there are people in the community looking to purchase or being part of the community,” he said.
He continued: “We wanted to bring back the lower density, low key, light touch feel. It’s complimentary to what the north shore is, the agricultural and rural lifestyle on the north shore.”
Ranching is the main focus for the project, and Sutton said developers are contemplating orchards at the entry as well as other agricultural components.
“We feel that’s an asset to buyers and something buyers would enjoy,” Sutton said.
Development proposals have been ongoing regarding the plateau since the 1980s, though zoning on the central plateau hasn’t been changed in order to jive with the plans.
In 2015, Mehana Blaich Vaughan, North Shore resident and professor with College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources and University of Hawaii Manoa’s Sea Grant College program, worked with ten UH graduate students and community members to conduct research regarding land use history and entitlements in the area.
She said the current plan for 75 luxury homes appears to represent a workable build out for the developer.
“Most of the property in question has no resort zoning so the current proposal is in keeping with what is allowable and actually entitled,” Vaughn said.