Judge approves company’s permits
Questions of land use had led a Kauai panel to deny a water bottler
LIHUE » A Garden Isle water-bottling company will be able to continue its business after a judge overturned a Kauai Planning Commission decision this week.
After receiving permission to build a water purification facility and starting operations in 2002, Kauai Springs was ordered to stop bottling water by the Kauai Planning Commission in 2007.
The commission denied a use permit, a special permit and a zoning permit for the company because the county was unsatisfied that water bottling was an allowed use on agricultural land.
However, the company, which received a judge's order allowing it to proceed, never ceased operations.
On Wednesday, it won its appeal of the commission decision, as Judge Kathleen Watanabe ordered the planning commission to issue the company the permits.
In commission hearings in 2007, members of the native Hawaiian community argued that they have the rights to the water bottled by Kauai Springs.
But Kauai Springs' attorney, Robert Thomas, said the state Public Utilities Commission and the Water Commission both stated they had no concerns with the project.
The judge, however, said in her decision that the county missed its own deadlines when denying two of the permits and agreed with the plaintiffs for the third.
Kauai Springs will now seek damages against the county in separate suit, Thomas said.
"Even the cloud of this off-the-wall denial ... has been hanging over Kauai Springs' head," Thomas added. "A lot of folks were reticent (to sign contracts with the company) until the case was settled."
Kauai Springs, which operates on land leased from the Grove Farm Co., takes water from a stream above the town of Koloa.