LIHU‘E — A bill making its way through the Kaua‘i County Council to allow produce stands on adjacent agricultural lands is moving to a final reading next week.
Bill No. 2804 establishes definitions and permitting requirements for agricultural stands, botanical gardens, farmers’ markets, places for food processing and packing of agricultural products, restaurants and zoological gardens, amending the county’s comprehensive zoning ordinance.
An agricultural retail stand, defined in the bill as a building or structure less than 1,000 square feet to sell agricultural products from the property or associated farms, would be permitted if the bill passes.
There are no outright permissible retail sales of any product allowed on agriculture-zoned lands according to the CZO. That’s not the case with state law, which permits these.
“County laws could be much more restrictive, and our law is much more restrictive than the state law in that it doesn’t provide for a specific vehicle or permit agriculture retail sales,” Planning Department Director Ka‘aina Hull said.
In testimony to the council, Carl Imparato noted that the retail-sales section presents “one major problem.”
“(The bill) proposes to add, with insufficient restructures, ‘retail sales’ and ‘restaurants and food services’ to the (CZO’s) table of uses,” Imparato wrote.
Imparato said that it’s “very important” for the CZO to be clear on what types of retail uses are allowed and explicitly state what products would not be allowed at these stands, such as in the stance of the Planning Commission adding a footnote requiring that restaurants and food services would need to primarily sell produce and livestock or value-added products associated with those derived from the property.
Councilmember Luke Evslin, who supports the majority of the bill and its stipulations, did express some concern for abuse of the retail-sales component. Evslin asked what is the possibility of establishing additional requirements, like size, on a retail location.
Hull said that while drafting the bill with introducer Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro, they “recognized there are different gradations of retail.”
“Even if you have a retail store proposed on agricultural land, it has to be vetted through the public-hearing and special-permit process to ensure in some nature it’s connected with agriculture,” Hull said.
Hull said that would be appropriate for farm operations to sell not just value-added produce, “but actual branding and logo associated with the land.”
The bill would also establish requirements for restaurants on these types of lands, like primarily sourcing produce and livestock for menu use. Restaurants would still need to go through the permitting process.
Current enforcement measures
During the meeting, Councilmember Billy DeCosta shared a story of stopping by a fruit stand in ‘Oma‘o, where he observed a variety of fruits that did not appear on the seller’s property. DeCosta said the farmer told him the farm was not currently fruiting.
Hull said this type of situation would not be considered in a legal, outright, permissible legal stand today, but there aren’t many formal complaints delivered to the Planning Department.
“We have some that have ag retail properties that are selling their produce, their fruit, and technically are illegal,” Hull said. “We’re not enforcing it because we haven’t gotten any complaints, but should we get a complaint we would have to enforce against those.”
Bill 2804 was first introduced in September by Kaneshiro, noting the impact the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has had on farmers and ranchers.
The bill passed unanimously out of the council’s Planning Committee on March 11, and will go to final reading on Wednesday, March 24.
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.