Kauai lets disputed development proceed
LIHUE » A federal court settlement between the county planning commission and a South Shore developer announced yesterday left Kauai County Council members and some community members disappointed.
The settlement, which would allow the development of a 75,000-square-foot commercial center in Koloa, reversed a 2006 Kauai Planning Commission decision to deny the developer, Koloa Marketplace LLC, a use permit.
The County Council received the settlement report, which was agreed upon last month, at their regular meeting yesterday. The Koloa Community Association will discuss the settlement today at a 6:30 p.m. meeting.
"I have no idea what the community is going to do, but I know they're going to be disappointed and mad," said Louie Abrams, president of the Koloa Community Association. "It's frustrating to know we spent all this time" on this project for nothing.
Several councilmembers said they, too, were saddened to learn the details of the settlement, but a deputy county attorney said it was the best they could do.
"This is a negotiated (deal) that we believe represents the best interests of the County of Kauai," said First Deputy County Attorney Harrison Kawate.
"It could have been a worse settlement at a much higher cost," said Councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho.
While many residents of the Koloa community cheered the planning commission's decision to deny the permit last year, the planning department and the Koloa Community Association had asked the commission to allow the development to proceed with a number of conditions.
Instead, the commission decided to deny the permits for the project altogether.
Koloa Marketplace LLC filed a federal civil rights complaint last October, alleging the county did not follow its own deadlines when handing in reports on the project.
The settlement was the best the county could do, given the facts of the case, Kawate said.
However, Abrams said that the four main conditions the community association had pushed for were left out of the final court order. They are a review of the design plan, the preservation of a number of old monkeypod trees, payment of a transportation impact fee, and a condition keeping the developer from building in a floodway.
"We had to be realistic," Abrams added.
As part of the settlement, the design plan is already set, there are no conditions keeping the buildings out of the floodway, the monkeypod trees can be moved as long as similar trees are used in the landscaping plan, and the impact fees are about half of what is needed to make the traffic improvements in the area.
Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said she did not think the agreement represented the best interests of the county, but the remainder of the Council said it is something the community will have to live with.
The lot has already been cleared, and the developers have already tagged the monkeypod trees, Abrams added.