LIHU‘E — After two years of meetings, discussions and outreaches, the West Kaua‘i Community Plan was passed with several amendments in November and signed into law by Mayor Derek Kawakami earlier this month.
The Kaua‘i Planning Department undertook the in-house development of the plan in 2018, meeting with constituents and residents throughout the Westside, which is designated as a 225-square-mile area encompassing Kekaha, Port Allen, ‘Ele‘ele, Waimea and Hanapepe, as well as the plantation camps of Numila, Kaumakani, Pakala Village and Ka‘awanui Village.
“These six bills represent over two years of hard work and thousands of man-hours where our Planning Department went out into the West Kaua‘i community to listen and ask what their vision was for West Kaua‘i’s future,” Kawakami said.
“Thank you to all of those community members for sacrificing your own time, to former Mayor Carvalho and his administration for starting this endeavor, to our County Council for their hard work, and our Planning Department for seeing this all through.”
Ku Kona a Ola, a hui of Westside community members, took to educating residents and speaking with Kaua‘i County Council members about their concerns when it was up for discussion throughout the past few months.
“All we really wanted was to inform our community better,” member Cookie Lee of Waimea said. “We were uninformed and we didn’t want (the county) to do this without us.”
Some community members felt portions of the plan were redundant, but Lee said councilmembers, including Planning Committee Chair Mason Chock, lent an open ear to concerned residents.
The plan addresses land use, development policy, transportation, resiliency, shared spaces, economic development, heritage resources, housing and infrastructure, by identifying actions, programs, partnerships, goals and objectives throughout the Westside.
One planning aspect establishes a special treatment coastal edge that requires developments within sea-level-rise-exposure areas to mitigate those impacts, like erosion and flooding.
The area is one of the first zoning districts in the state to incorporate climate-change and sea-level-rise exposure data into an ordinance with preventive measures, Planning Director Ka‘aina Hull said.
The plan also includes a special Plantation Camp zoning district that allows these existing areas to rehabilitate and update homes outside of regular codes.
Notably, a designated Special Treatment Public Facilities District for the the Port Allen Airport in ‘Ele‘ele, establishes an ordinance that requires businesses or proposals to go through a public-hearing process that will include community stakeholders, including salt makers, as official parties.
The plan also allows for a 70-acre, special provision to allow for resort development next to 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 and density with the existing Waimea Plantation Cottages, and buildings could not exceed one-story.
“The plan provides direction and vision for the community of West Kaua‘i and I am happy that the department remains flexible and committed to working with the community in moving forward with their ongoing interests,” Chock said in a statement.
As of Saturday, Dec. 12, the final adopted plan was not available to the public online.
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.