LIHU‘E — The Planning Commission Tuesday approved a use permit that would bring the Longman Jiu-Jitsu Academy into compliance and add a juice bar to the Kilauea Old Mill Building on Oka Street.
The property has several small businesses in the Old Mill Building and warehouse, including the jiu-jitsu academy, which previously did not have the proper use permits for this limited-industrial district.
Bruno Ewald, owner of the Jiu-Jitsu Academy and applicant, has been operating in the space for 12 years prior to the permit request, he said.
“There were certain sentiments that the Planning Commission has turned a blind eye … that is categorically not the case,” Planning Department Director Ka‘aina Hull said yesterday.
The Planning Department has one inspector that investigates comprehensive zoning complaints, Hull said. Since that’s the case, the department works on a complaint basis.
It wasn’t until the application came in that the department became aware of the specific permits associated with the property. Once flagged, the applicant sought the use-permits for the academy.
“There’s never been a complaint about what we do,” Ewald said Tuesday.
Testimony in favor of the academy spoke of Ewald’s community impact through his studio.
“Longman Jiu-Jitsu is more than a typical martial arts studio,” Genna Wolkon, owner of Kaua‘i Farmacy said in testimony. “It is a communal staple of Kilauea and a safe haven for children and adults to direct their focus on self-evolution for positive contribution to our local community.”
The application also requested to build a take-out juice bar in the existing Old Mill Building.
In written testimony, Makaala Kaaumoana said that a commercial kitchen on this site is an expansion of its current use and “does not align in any way with the Kilauea Town Plan…”
“Many participated in the Kilauea Town Plan and worked hard to preserve the neighborhood in which they lived and visualize the Kilauea they hoped for their children,” Kaaumoana said.
There is already a commercial kitchen located in the building, Ewald said, which was first approved for a physical-therapyphysical therapyand wellness center. The existing kitchen appliances, like the piping, electrical and grease trap, are all still in place.
The permit initially came up for an agency hearing back in March in front of the commission, but because of semantics, the item was deferred for two months.
The advertisement, back in March, listed the Old Kilauea Mill item as a public hearing, rather than an agency hearing.
Peter Morimoto, an attorney representing Jim and Shelly Spencer, raised objections, at the first meeting that the commission violated its own rules in providing inadequate notice of the hearing.
Commission Chair Donna Apisa, being a member of the Kilauea Old Mill, LLC, recused herself from the meeting, and remaining commissioners approved the Class IV Zoning Permit and Use Permit to allow operation of the athletic health club within the warehouse building and operation of a commercial kitchen and retail business.
“My kids were born and raise in Kilauea,” Ewald said. “I try to make sure that everyone behaves here.”
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.