Friday, September 7, 2001

Kauai County

Kauai landfill plan
creates confusion

By Anthony Sommer

LIHUE >> A somewhat bewildered Kauai County Council sent back yesterday a request from Mayor Maryanne Kusaka for authorization to purchase property to build a new county landfill.

Kusaka, who asked last week for the purchase authorization, asked the Council this week to send the request back so her administration could conduct a public hearing.

Council members said they were given no information on the site other than its location in a remote area near Hanamaulu. The parcel is former Amfac/JMB sugar land recently purchased by America Online founder Steve Case. The property is being managed by Grove Farm, which Case purchased last year.

Kauai has been in a perpetual garbage crisis for the past decade. Kusaka and the County Council regularly point fingers, each blaming the other for failing to move ahead on a major solid-waste plan adopted in 1994 but never implemented.

Kusaka asked the Council last year to decide whether it wanted another major new landfill or a small landfill and a garbage processing plant that would divert trash from the landfill.

The Council could not decide and funded another minor expansion of the existing county dump, blaming Kusaka for not providing enough information.

The county keeps expanding the existing Kekaha Landfill vertically and horizontally every time it nears capacity, but there is agreement it cannot be expanded much more.

Two years ago, Kusaka appointed a committee to pick a new landfill site and tried to keep its membership a secret until she accidentally named its members at a Council meeting. The committee, in turn, hired a consultant to study the matter.

The consultant came up with a list of seven sites that met the committee's criteria. But none of the landowners would sell their property, and the county was reluctant to attempt an eminent-domain court case.

Ray Chuan, a frequent critic of county government, told the Council he is "puzzled" by the appearance of the Grove Farm site.

"We spent $150,000 last year to hire a consultant to evaluate sites, and there were seven that met the criteria," Chuan said. "Now we have an entirely new site and have no information whether it meets any of the consultant's criteria."

Kauai County

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