TOM FINNEGAN / TFINNEGAN@STARBULLETIN.COM
Despite repeated protests, vigils and lawsuits, several monkeypod trees in Koloa were removed yesterday with little fanfare.
Trees give way to stores
Monkeypods that Koloa residents tried to save are cut down
KOLOA, Kauai » After years of wrangling, months of candlelight vigils and at least two lawsuits, a number of Koloa monkeypod trees were removed yesterday.
The trees, which date back at least 40 years, have been part of the south shore town's identity for as long as anyone can remember, said Carol Anne Davis-Briant of the Koloa Community Association.
"We're going to have to ask the county to take down the 'Historic Koloa' sign now," Davis-Briant said yesterday. "I am absolutely devastated."
The trees are coming down to make way for a new shopping center, the Shops at Koloa Town.
Only 17 of the 30 monkeypods on the property will be removed, said Stacey Wong, trustee for the Eric A. Knudsen Trust, which owns the land. And while five of those will be saved by relocating them to other properties in town, new monkeypods will replace all those removed.
The Shops at Koloa Town, which will sit on the corner of Koloa and Maluhia roads, has been in development since the 1980s, and the family trust has owned the land for 135 years.
But when the project was denied permits by the Kauai Planning Commission in 2006, the trust sued in federal court.
In a settlement with the county in October, the trust was given the permits to build its retail development, while the community concerns -- especially about saving the trees and building on a flood plain -- were not addressed.
Numerous protests, including candlelight vigils, took place under the trees over the past two months.
The Koloa Community Association asked a Kauai judge last month for a restraining order to protect the trees, but that was denied because of the federal settlement.