LIHU‘E — During the process of creating the 2018 Kaua‘i General Plan, the community spoke out in opposition to more resorts. However, 60 acres on the Westside was labeled “provisional,” to be determined through the West Kaua‘i Community Plan.
The Kaua‘i County Council’s Planning Committee deferred amendments specific to the West Kaua‘i Community Plan last Wednesday, with more coming down with the support of the Planning Department, which crafted the plan.
Bill No. 2798 amends the plan to allow for the area to be re-designated as “Provisional Resort,” allowing for development west of Waimea Plantation Cottages. It would remain agriculture land, and the provisional resort could be converted into a resort designation but would need to remain in character of Waimea Plantation Cottages.
Malia Kahale‘inia Chun wrote to the county last week “in strong opposition” to the resort designation in Kikiaola.
“I am concerned about the future of development and the long-term environment and economic impacts resorts, condominium and vacation rentals will have on our small, local community,” Chun wrote.
“Currently, the Waimea Plantation Cottages already struggles to maintain full occupancy, while employing only a small staff of approximately 30. Not to mention, the ocean fronting Kikiaola is hardly a hospitable or safe place for visitors to lounge or swim, let along build a resort upon.”
Chun wrote that “there are much more pressing issues that plague West Kaua‘i,” like affordable housing, food sustainability and infrastructure.
Tianji Kajiwara, a Waimea resident, submitted written testimony last week, agreeing with Chun.
“I also do not think rezoning to a resort is a wise choice for the West Side community. We for one do not have infrastructure for it, (and) it would also take away from the ‘cultural heritage’ we are trying to perpetuate,” Kajiwara wrote.
Kajiwara said traffic congestion is already an issue in the area, and “We do not have the infrastructure to support all of these proposed ideas.”
The West Kaua‘i Community Plan encompasses 225 square miles spanning Kekaha, Port Allen, ‘Ele‘ele, Waimea and Hanapepe, as well as the plantation camps of Numila, Kaumakani, Pakala Village and Ka‘awanui Village.
The 20-year plan addresses land use, development policy, transportation, resiliency, shared spaces, economic development, heritage resources, and housing and infrastructure, by identifying actions, programs, partnerships, goals and objectives throughout the Westside.
The plan offers policies focusing development in existing towns to protect the area’s rural qualities and agricultural resources while enhancing town design and transportation needs.
The process started about two years ago, with opportunities for community input about issues and topics the community felt were necessary for their areas, through focus groups, open houses and workshops.
Bills numbered 2796 through 2802 amend zoning requirements, establish new coast edge and other WCKP-specific goals, and were all deferred to allow more time to consider the amendments as a whole in conjunction with the plan, which can be viewed at westkauaiplan.org.
In other business
The council unanimously approved a request from the Office of Economic Development to apply for $600,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Program for planning and assessment of the old Kekaha Sugar mill site.
The EPA’s Brownfields and Land Revitalization program helps communities address contaminated properties. The site in Kekaha is considered a “superfund site” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act.
“The Kekaha mill is currently undeveloped and underutilized due to its current disrepair and environmental hazards,” a memo from OED Director Nalani Brun said.
Brun said it is going after the 2021 funding, but if that doesn’t come through, there is already money in the budget to begin community outreach to determine where to put the funding. If the county is awarded these funds, it will go toward an EPA study and possibly detoxing the land.