Development projects affecting Garden Isle style
Koloa and Poipu residents fight to save the areas' small-town atmospheres
POIPU, Kauai » Poipu and Koloa residents on Kauai are afraid the small-town character of their communities will be lost forever.
Nearly a dozen construction projects are under way and will add 4,500 homes and apartments to Kauai's south shore.
The area is zoned for resorts. But it's only recently that construction on several large developments has started.
The Kauai County Council failed to pass a resolution last year imposing a moratorium on new development. But residents are turning out to air complaints about new projects and zoning changes.
Developers are contributing money to help ease traffic congestion. But residents are still wary of new construction and its impact on the community and the lifestyle that many desire.
"It's a place people like to visit" because of the charming, small-town atmosphere, said Carol Ann Davis-Briant, a board member of the Koloa Community Association. "There's a way to do development ... that it doesn't kill the goose that lays the golden egg."
POIPU, Kauai » Two sleepy, quaint towns on Kauai's sunny south side, Koloa and Poipu, are in the middle of a massive change.
Almost a dozen construction projects, totaling more than 4,500 units, are already zoned and a half-dozen are already under construction.
Carol Ann Davis-Briant, a board member of the Koloa Community Association, said community association members are battling for to preserve their neighborhoods.
It's not a question of development, she added. It's about enhancing what's currently in town.
"It's a place people like to visit" because of the charming, small-town atmosphere, she said. "There's a way to do development ... that it doesn't kill the goose that lays the golden egg."
The problem is, Kauai Mayor Bryan Baptiste said this week, most of the area was zoned for resort development in 1972, when the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance was implemented.
Led by members of the Koloa Community Association and other community groups, residents have pushed for a traffic study to find how traffic can move around the area when perhaps an additional 6,000 cars enter the region in the coming years.
"There's not a lot we can do about the development," Davis-Briant said. "But we can do something about traffic."
The community association, which has been keeping an eye on the area since the 1970s, has gotten a majority of the developers in the area to pitch in for a traffic circulation plan, Davis-Briant said.
The Koloa-Poipu Circulation Plan, as the $360,000 traffic study is called, was turned over to Baptiste and the Kauai County Council last week. If implemented, the plan would add more than $12 million worth of feeder roads, sidewalks, bike paths and a local bus service to keep as much traffic out of the area as possible.
And many of the developers have pledged to pay for a chunk of the recommendations.
They may have to, since the County Council, the planning commission, and even the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and other state agencies are starting to question any further development in the area.
While a Kauai County Council resolution failed last year that would have imposed a moratorium on development in the area, each project going through the planning process has been scrutinized by numerous county and state agencies.
Last year, the planning commission, helped by hundreds of residents' complaints, denied zoning variances to Historic Koloa Village, effectively destroying a project to add a new commercial complex and multi-family units in downtown Koloa. The owners of the project have appealed to Circuit Court.
And last month, almost a hundred people, supported by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, showed up at the State Land Use Commission to argue against a request to change agriculturally-zoned land to more resort land. The 120-plus-acre development, to be called the Village at Poipu, is also the site of rich archeological sites dating back hundreds of years. Native Hawaiians joined other residents to ask the commission to refuse the zoning change.
They were joined by the Kauai County Council, which asked, in a nonbinding resolution, for the Land Use Board to deny the request.
"There are 10 different projects (already) going on," Davis-Briant said. "It's pretty scary."
Still, another project, to add condo units and commercial space near Koloa town, was on the planning commission agenda just last week.
Koloa and Poipu residents "will not give up," said Louis Abrams, president of the Koloa Community Association, last week at the planning commission. "This community is too important to us to let (these projects) go by" without at least some input.