LIHU‘E — Developer HG Kaua‘i Joint Ventures LLC has filed a motion to withdraw its amended petition for a land-use district boundary on Thursday for a controversial mixed-use and housing project near Kapa‘a Middle School, and asked that all subsequent hearings on the matter be canceled before the state Land Use Commission.
The commission met May 13 for a continued hearing on the petition to rezone 96 acres of agricultural land to urban district land to develop HoKua Place, a $337 million project with 86 single-family lots and 683 multi-family units, neighborhood commercial center and community park.
At the end of that meeting, when the petitioner rested its case, commissioners expressed skepticism of the viability of the project, specifically raising concerns for a lack of a comprehensive plan for water, wastewater and traffic-impact study.
On the table for the commission was a discussion on a motion made by LUC Commissioner Gary Okuda to dismiss or deny the petition scheduled for June 10.
“The petitioner seeking the boundary amendment has the burden of proof, the burden of persuasion and the burden coming forth with the evidence,” Okuda said on May 13. “In this case here, I believe, even taking a very easy (look and) in the light most favorable to the petitioner, the petitioner simply has not met its burden of proof.”
In November of last year, Liko Martin filed a motion to intervene in the matter, citing the need for agricultural lands and the strain on existing wastewater, sewage and road infrastructure. Since March 2021, the commission has met and heard testimony on the topics of affordable housing, agriculture, potable-water demand, traffic and demand for housing.
Commissioner Dan Giovanni, who represents Kaua‘i, said that during the proceedings, he was not persuaded that the developer has done its due diligence to properly study the proposal and produce a complete environmental impact study.
“What I have learned in this evidence that’s been brought forth in this docket has convinced me that (the developer) did not meet that bar (for the EIS),” Giovanni said. “If I knew then what I know now, I would have argued strenuously not to accept the (EIS) at the time.”
The property, zoned agriculture, is north of ‘Olohena Road and the Kapa‘a bypass road, one of the most-highly-trafficked areas on the island. The Traffic Impact Analysis Report, which commissioners had suggested at an earlier meeting, also seemed out-of-date, commissioners said.
Bridget Hammerquist, president of Friends of Maha‘ulepu, called this “a real win for Kaua‘i” for the joint partnership between her nonprofit, the Sierra Club and Community Coalition for Kaua‘i.
“Clearly, had the LUC not done such a stellar job exposing the serious problems with their plan, there would have been a huge adverse impact to quality of life for everyone on Kaua‘i,” Hamerquist said. “There’s one road from north to south, and we all are better off with the developer’s decision to throw in the towel.”