Friday, May 28, 1999

Kauai planners approve
Kukuiula resort project

Prison 'not on the radar

By Anthony Sommer


LIHUE -- The Kauai Planning Commission gave a green light yesterday to Alexander & Baldwin to build a major new resort at Kukuiula on the island's south shore.

At the same time, the commission put off action for at least two weeks in hopes developers and environmentalists can reach accord on a plan to subdivide acreage between Kealia Beach and Donkey Beach into multimillion-dollar home sites on Kauai's east shore.

Approval of general plan and zoning ordinance changes for A&B's Kukuiula project didn't come cheap. The commission insisted on $1 million worth of roadway improvements and parks and playgrounds as a condition for obtaining building permits in the future.

Residents of nearby Koloa and Poipu told the commission at two public hearings that unless A&B builds new roads to serve the resort, traffic on existing roads will become hopelessly snarled.

Planner Keith Nitta said the conditions give A&B the option of either building the roadways, parks and playgrounds before applying for building permits or giving the county $1 million to pay for their construction.

Tom Shigemoto, vice president of A&B's Kukuiula Development Co., noted the changes still must be approved by the County Council. "I'm optimistic," he said.

Ten years ago, A&B went to the county with a proposal to build houses on the 1,029 acres it owns at Kukuiula. The County Council agreed but specifically excluded a resort.

Now, with Kauai's housing market on the ropes, A&B wants to use 77 acres for a resort with homebuilding to come later. Their proposal calls for a 200-room hotel, between 300 and 500 time-share units, commercial space and a golf course.

It would rank among the largest resorts on the island. If the residential portion is built the planned community will be larger than Princeville on Kauai's north shore.

Shigemoto said assuming all permits are granted, completion of the resort is three to five years away.

Earlier in the day, the Friends of Donkey Beach packed the commission hearing room for the fourth time in six months in an attempt to block Kealia Plantation Co. from subdividing 314 acres on the bluff above the Kealia and Donkey beaches.

Kealia Plantation has agreed to give Kauai 53 acres of land between the beach and the bluff for use as a county park, the largest donation of its kind in state history.

It also has offered to build a parking lot for Donkey Beach users and an improved trail to reach the beach. Currently, beach-goers park along Kuhio Highway and walk down a footpath that trespasses on Kealia Plantation land.

Friends of Donkey Beach wants the free park and the parking lot and the trail, but it also wants the county to require setbacks so that people in the park wouldn't be able to see the houses on the bluff, which means the homeowners couldn't see the beach. Kealia Plantation has agreed to setbacks that will still allow the homeowners to see both the ocean and the beach.

The group -- which was founded by Marge Freeman and is loosely allied with the Sierra Club -- failed in an attempt to persuade the Planning Commission to deny special management area permits to Kealia Plantation. It has sued the county over the decision.

Yesterday, Friends of Donkey Beach attempted to persuade the commission to deny subdivision permits to Kealia Plantation.

But before the commission voted, attorneys for both sides agreed to allow the matter to be continued so that settlement talks on the lawsuit, scheduled to begin yesterday afternoon, could proceed.

Kauai ‘isn’t even on
the radar’ with respect
to a new prison

State officials put to rest speculation
that Kauai is being considered as a
site for such a facility

By Anthony Sommer


LIHUE -- State officials last night put to rest the idea that Kauai is seriously being considered as the site for a new state prison -- at least for now.

"It's going on the Big Island. Kauai isn't even on the radar," House Public Safety Chairman Nestor Garcia (D, Waipahu, Crestview) told a public meeting. "We only wanted to know if there was any interest on Kauai."

Garcia's comment was met with a resounding "No!" from the vast majority of the audience of about 100.

The meeting drew Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, who opposes the prison, most of the County Council and both senators and all three state representatives who represent Kauai.

Department of Public Safety Director Ted Sakai said the only site being considered is near Hilo.

Work on an environmental impact statement on that site began in November and will be concluded in August, he said.

Senate Judiciary Co-Chairman Avery Chumbley (D, East Maui, North Kauai) said no site on Kauai would even be considered without a series of public hearings.

"No one is going to sneak in here in the middle of the night and start building a prison," he said.

All this started when the Senate refused to give Gov. Ben Cayetano $130 million for the Big Island prison.

Rep. Ezra Kanoho (D, Lihue, Kapaa) suggested there would be some economic benefit for Kauai, and the governor did not reject the idea.

Kanoho attended last night's meeting and said he was only posing a "What if?" question. He said the plan remains to build a prison on the Big Island.

"If that fell through, and only if it fell through, I think it would be useful to conduct a scientific survey to see what people on Kauai think about it," he said.

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