Saturday, November 10, 2001

Kauai County

Kauai Council
committee agrees to
Donkey Beach deal

The full Council now considers
accepting 50 acres in exchange
for allowing housing

By Anthony Sommer

LIHUE >> The four-year tug of war between Kauai environmentalists and the developer of Kealia Kai took a few steps toward resolution Thursday night at the Kauai County Council, but several issues remain to be resolved.

The Council's Development Committee sent approval of the deed to 50 acres of park land at Donkey Beach to the full Council for approval. But it conceded there were areas of concern left un-addressed.

Donkey Beach is best known in the tourist guidebooks as a nude beach, even though nude sunbathing is illegal. For decades, people visiting the beach have parked along Kuhio Highway and walked on a trail across Amfac land.

The property was purchased four years ago by what is now called Kealia Kai LLC. Justin and Michele Hughes, part-time Kauai residents, have represented the project. As of yesterday their partner, Thomas McCloskey, another part-time Kauai resident, took over as owner of the project.

Kealia Kai offered the county 50 acres of land between Donkey Beach and the bluff at the end of the developer's subdivision. In return the county agreed not to require any additional park land if the company decides to develop the hundreds of acres of former sugar plantation land they bought adjoining Kealia Kai.

Restrictions in the deed they are offering the county, however, brought the island's environmental community to the Council meeting Thursday night in a hearing that lasted almost five hours.

One unresolved issue is a sentence in the deed that allows private guards to patrol the park to protect Kealia Kai property. Many residents expressed a fear that the security guards would go beyond keeping park users from trespassing on the developer's property. They said they are afraid the security guards would dictate what they could and could not do in the park.

The other unresolved issue is use of the park at night. As the deed now is written, the park land would be closed from sunset to sunrise except for park visitors "engaged in fishing activity." The measure would appear to prohibit camping, but anyone bringing a fishing pole would be allowed to stay on the beach overnight.

Donkey Beach and the proposed park were the subject of a major lawsuit earlier in the process. Environmentalists demanded the developer require homes to be set back far enough from the bluff so they could not be seen from the beach. Kealia Kai at first refused, but relented after a lawsuit that threatened to hold up land sales for years was filed against the developer.

The park deed, along with the unresolved questions about restrictions, will be taken up by the County Council, probably at next week's meeting.

Panel backs access to beaches

LIHUE >> After months of debate, the Kauai County Council's Development Committee has adopted a measure requiring developers to provide access to beaches and mountain areas.

The bill was sent to the full Council Thursday night without debate. It is expected to be the subject of considerable controversy and public testimony.

As it now reads, it would require any subdivider or developer to dedicate land for public access to any shoreline or mountain area adjoining the property. The county engineer would be given the authority to determine whether the terrain is too difficult for a safe trail to be built.

Kauai County

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