HANAPEPE — Many of the 150 people left Wednesday’s meeting on a possible “second city” on the Westside with more questions than answers.
The crowd gathered to hear Alexander and Baldwin’s Tom Shigemoto explain plans for what he called a “satellite city” encompassing Hanapepe, Eleele and Port Allen. A timeline hasn’t been set but the plan is in place if development should be needed, Shigemoto said.
“This is probably not going to happen in the near future; not in my lifetime,” Shigemoto said.
Many said they were upset because they believe A&B slipped the plan into the county’s General Plan before the community had enough information about it.
The plan outlines potential development for the next 20 years.
“I feel that this is morally and ethically a bad decision about this whole process. Something’s very wrong about this process, it’s not fair to the people,” said Ken Taylor.
The development spans about 480 acres, and includes residential areas for single and multi-family residential, land for industrial use, a 20-acre park, and places for fire and emergency services.
It’s a concept, Shigemoto said, A&B’s dream of what they could create with the space and population density. Other details haven’t yet been hashed out.
The upside is the potential for job creation and traffic alleviation, Shigemoto explained, because creating an urban center away from Lihue would help keep the West and South side commutes on that side of the island.
“If the second city concept is a consideration, it would create opportunities out of Lihue,” he said. “If you create other economic opportunities, you won’t alleviate all the traffic, but some of the people who live here will work out of here.”
Taylor said he thinks the Citizens Advisory Committee, which vetted the plan, should have been chosen by the community and more input should have been allowed before the council approved the plan.
A cheer went up from the crowd when Taylor spoke, and others questioned whether they missed the boat on giving their perspective on the plan.
Shigemoto said planning for the development started in 2005, and a committee was formed in 2007 to vet the plans.
He explained though opportunity for community input into the General Plan is over, the West Kauai Community Plan is still in development and there will be opportunity to comment it.
“(The General Plan outlines) if we need to grow, this is where we want growth to occur,” Shigemoto said. “Community development plans follow the General Plan for implementation.”
But residents questioned how much growth Kauai can handle, and cautioned against adding another development.
“I look at this as a consumption problem. We cannot keep on growing. Oahu wasn’t always like that,” said Josh Mori, of Eleele, referring to Oahu’s high density and traffic.
Sherri Cummings, with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and vice president of the Anahola Hawaiian Homes Association, shared her concerns about the displacement of Native Hawaiians because of the development and asked if A&B would be finding ways to put her people back on the land.
“Think outside the box. Sit down with us and help us get back on the land,” she said. “I ask you to be a good steward for the Native Hawaiian people.”
By the time the meeting ended, community members weren’t satisfied with what they heard.
“What I’m taking out of this is more questions,” Mori said. “No matter what comes out of this meeting, development is coming, it’s going to happen.”