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Talks turn heated on Westside plan

  • Contributed photo

    Kauai County Council Chair Mel Rapozo

LIHUE — The question of what makes a community was the center of a heated discussion about the West Kauai Community Plan during the County Council’s Planning Committee meeting Wednesday.

At times, the discussion was so inflamed that Planning Committee Chair Mason Chock had to intervene, with Council Chair Mel Rapozo and Vice Chair Ross Kagawa exiting council chambers at one point.

The plan outlines potential development of 480 acres of land on the Westside that includes residential areas for single and multi-use family homes, industrial use areas and a 20-acre park with an area for fire and emergency services.

Though some people are upset because they feel the West Kauai Plan was added to the General Plan at the last minute, Rapozo said it’s been on the books for several years.

“It’s not like it just sprung up overnight, which is what some people are trying to get the community to believe,” he said.

After a public meeting conducted by a separate entity about the second city option in West Kauai last month attended by over 100 people, Chock said the public has been asking whether the process of gathering feedback has started.

“We just wanted to get some clarity from the planning director to let the community know what is forthcoming, because we haven’t started the process. We have a whole process for the Westside plan,” Chock said.

Kauai County Planning Director Mike Dahilig told the council his department has not started the West Kauai process because they need to make sure information going out to the public is accurate.

“I want to make that very clear. As far as launching any process, we have to prepare and we have to do our due diligence ahead of time,” he said.

The soft launch of the planning process, Dahilig said, will be in late May or early June.

Because regional plans haven’t been updated since the 1970s, Dahilig said this was an opportunity for people on the Westside to go through the stakeholder process of defining themselves as a community.

“We haven’t given them the opportunity to do so,” he said. “It sounds like many people want to jump the gun already and that’s healthy, but I want to make it clear that these meetings that are happening in advance of any process that we’re going to start, are purely meetings that are done by private organizations that wish to engage in these conversations.”

Councilmember Arthur Brun asked how they were going to ensure Westside community members are being reached for input.

“Please do everything you can to reach the people that are not loud, that are not going to come out,” he said.

Kagawa said he wants to make sure people who actually live on the Westside are heard during the planning process, rather than hearing from people who live on other parts of the island.

“If locals don’t want to show up, it’s just babbling,” Kagawa said. “Let the people that reside in that area decide.”

Councilmember Derek Kawakami said he supports having smaller meetings so younger people who might not speak otherwise will have the opportunity to be heard.

Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura asked Dahilig numerous questions about the plan, the process of finalizing the plan and the impact construction would have on the community and whether an Environmental Impact Study would be conducted.

Frustrated with Yukimura’s questioning that lasted more than an hour, Rapozo left for part of the discussion, as did Kagawa.

When he returned for the public testimony session, Rapozo stated it was obvious Yukimura was not happy with what happened with the General Plan and is using this process to put a cloud of conspiracy over it.

“This whole feeling, this whole thing is corruption, and it’s gotten worse after listening today it’s more so and it’s so untrue. The EIS and all of these issues that Councilmember Yukimura brings up to create this distrust in the community I think is so derailing, it’s deflating,” Rapozo said.

He said he stepped out simply because he couldn’t take it anymore.

“This last barrage was just simply an attempt to get the community to distrust this county, distrust the Planning Department, distrust this body and I cannot sit back and not say something about that,” he said, apologizing.

Kagawa said he didn’t know why they had to keep going back to the misinformation.

“A General Plan needs options,” Kagawa said. “That’s what it is.”

•••

Bethany Freudenthal, courts, crime and county reporter, may be reached at 652-7891 or bfreudenthal@thegardenisland.com.

13 Comments
  1. harryoyama2 April 5, 2018 1:03 am Reply

    There are actually three problems with this proposal, the first if the Planning Commission not informing the public of its intentions, Yukimura grandstanding because of re-election reasons, and finally one of a glaring problems with locals, not wanting to “make waves” and avoiding getting involved in issues that directly affects them. I’ve been on a local union board and watched many times its local members not even coming to testify in front of the judges on issues we fought hard for their own benefit. But when the settlement comes forth, the first thing out of their mouths are “when are we getting paid”?


  2. No_They_Didn't April 5, 2018 1:39 am Reply

    Are they debating about something important? It looks like a not important topic. Planning is something done by districts. It doesn’t appear the county council has a say. They aren’t engineers. So the discussion continues.


  3. james April 5, 2018 7:05 am Reply

    Council Chair Mel Rapozo and Vice Chair Ross Kagawa have to be voted out of office as soon as possible. They are obviously in the developer’s pockets and could care less about the overwhelming community sentiment of not creating a new West-side city. They seem to want to turn Kauai into the next Waikiki. No thanks!


  4. kauaiboy April 5, 2018 7:46 am Reply

    Can Rapozo demonstrate where and when the West Kauai Plan has been “on the books” for several years? The idea is new to 95% or more of the residents. More likely is was discussed only in the boardroom of the developer, and exists only in the notes of meetings between those who stand to gain and the government employees who also stand to gain in some way.

    The fact that Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura asked Dahilig numerous questions about the plan, the process of finalizing the plan and the impact construction would have on the community and whether an Environmental Impact Study would be conducted, is a testimony to the careful consideration that should be given to the said plan. If there is a conspiracy involved here, it has not arisen from questioning this project. Instead, they may be a conspiracy to withhold information about this plan to the general public!

    Given the lack of the standing government to address important issue like institutionalized racism, institutionalized nepotism, an attempt eliminate term limits, to the conditions of our public parks, bloated governmental salaries and benefits, potholes and traffic and too many rental cars and restrictions on local folks to simply capitalize on the barrage of tourism, it is no wonder that the community distrusts the county government and distrusts many members of the Council.

    Get use to the criticism, Mel. You will be hearing plenty of it from supporters of Joann Yukimura for Mayor!


  5. LMat April 5, 2018 8:14 am Reply

    Mel, the community already distrusts the county, however, I agree that Joanne’s antics are just too much. Imagine her as mayor (again)…yikes.


  6. patrick powell April 5, 2018 9:37 am Reply

    As MAYOR I’m sure they will simply walk out mad when we start asking for better roads, a handle on the homeless situation and crime and traffic problems…More of the same…With those guys we are on our way to being sold out or ignored…(As is usual)…Grateful that JoAnn is in the race now!


  7. Oingo boingo April 5, 2018 12:12 pm Reply

    I hope we can get some affordible housing on the,west side soon….i hear people saying….what about the traffic…well, affordible housing is for people who all ready live here and drive on our roads allready…stop vacation rentals and defund the hawaii tourism association if your really worried about traffic. ..
    It’s just a ploy to keep the rents as high as possible for personal gain by a bunch of greedy realters..


  8. Debra Kekaualua April 5, 2018 12:14 pm Reply

    Excellent questions Joann, so what it was an hour! Mel always seems so impatient stressed out, aggitated, unhearing, over it, and just wanting to run away, like he did in this meeting. Government, miltaropolitical “Untrust” “Corrupt” is NOT new. Neither are the recent actions surrounding Endangered species act, clean water laws, committed felonies, CocoPalms BELL STONE desecrations. Now, federally investigated and finally the FBI is taking a look at credentials. Brun sounds like Kusaka, in his comment about “loud” talkers. My memory distinctly heard Kusaka say it this way and as is written in the book KPD Blue, “only haole come to speak at council or any meetings, the locals are well-trained”. Derrick should have already pulled papers for LT Governor, not Kauai Mayor! Derrick is a clone personality of ige, generational ties kicked to the curb, derrick prefers this regime. Mason has kept his ducks in a row. Highfive fist bump, GREAT integrity, skip over Grove farmer “water diversons dry streambeds”, through JY hubby hydropower plant mismanagement corporate, where “broken LAWS” have been ongoing for as long or longer than when the Fern Grotto died. Yet boat tours with diesel used to this dead place is a breach, false advertising against your BEloved “enhance the visitor experience” while spitting always at the tenants. You doing what you want and NEVER what we voted you in to those seats FOR WE the People. Ross. Thumbs up, as a teacher you KNOW! Never forget your haumana thoughts. Listen and embrace your warrior instincts. Ross, One of the last of the “localboy” that i remembered from the 60s.


  9. Lee April 5, 2018 5:36 pm Reply

    I attended this meeting and the Hanapepe Library meeting, but I chose not to speak, in part due to the heated environment but also because I’m still trying to learn more about the development proposal. Instead, I wrote a letter to all 7 Council members expressing my hope that the County would provide the public with clearer details about how the process works. I got 3 email replies.

    Last night I re-read the minutes from the January – March meetings on this issue, so I’m starting to get educated. If reported accurately, I think it’s unfortunate that Ross believes that only West Side residents should make decisions on a matter this large. Should Hanapepe residents have a voice in what happens in Lihue? I think we are all caring for the same island community, so every voice has purpose. I’ll have to watch the video to see if he actually said this. We vote for Council members to represent all of the island, not just their home town, right?


    1. Lee April 5, 2018 8:14 pm Reply

      After watching the County meeting again (on TV), it sounds like Ross feels irritated that a few voices from neighboring areas were the dominant voices at the Hanapepe meeting. Ross did say that people who came from the mainland should go back to the mainland if they want to be involved, and people from Poipu (Teddy) should let the people who live on the West Side speak and make decisions. Teddy’s concerns with A&B were that they weren’t allowing access to important cultural areas. Teddy leads the County’s Open Spaces group and protected Hapa Trail and other important places. Ross, and Mel, and Arthur each voiced concerns that the people of the West Side communities need to be heard, even if other interested island residents have to back off at times.


  10. My Two Cents April 5, 2018 7:18 pm Reply

    Her we go! Let me guess.. Some outsiders came for a visit and saw a potential to make money on the untapped west Kauai.. Let me make it clear to them and the council. west side maybe quiet, slow moving, mellow, cruiseing, and down right boreing.. But you know what? We like it that way. Stop with the over developments already. can’t you see those mcmantions lineing the kekaha beach front with no one liveing in them. isn’t seeing that enough? Dont try to jusify it with more jobs for the community then hire work crew’s from off island or worse out of state to do the job because that what always happens right? And Joanne don’t play us. We didn’t forget how you treated the Westside after iniki. Gay and Robinsons and the cummiunity cleaned up not you. WE DIDN’T FORGET. LEAVE WEST KAUAI BE..WERE GOOD..


    1. debra kekaualua April 6, 2018 10:17 am Reply

      Im with “my two cents” “patrick powel” “kauaboy” “james” and of course my comment. Everyone of them, in front their bathroom mirrors can actually look at themselves, and say “it’s all Good!” im begging kauaians to wake up and smell the Kauai coffee. We are all day every day being held Captive, kidnapped, and slaves to all of the practices that americanization brings to the table. Mel said it, ive said it, thousands of us are saying it. “Corrupt”. Far worse than Chief and PA duet out from the master place oahu, where like kauai, we now boast four Lihue Airport USAF F-22 Raptors and PMRF are behind locked and MP manned gates that exclude We the generational Tenants. False missile incoming coverup is just another of the regimes game plan to scare us into submission, that WE need warring military regime to keep us safe, when all they have done is placed us at RISK!


  11. Sue April 6, 2018 10:13 am Reply

    As a westsider, I am totally appalled that Rapozo and Kagawa walked out. Can’t listen to others who have questions or differing views? Deal with it! It just shows your lack of respect for people who are not like you: paid by developers! I will not vote for either one of you!


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