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Coco Palms Coco Palms petition pulled

Request disappears without explanation

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Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013 1:30 am

LIHUE — A few hours after being posted online Wednesday afternoon, the “Save Coco Palms” petition was pulled without explanation.

The petition asked for support to stop a proposal that would repeal Ordinance 716.

Neither the “Hawaii-based group of investors … willing to restore the property” nor the Save Coco Palms Committee returned a request for comments by press time Thursday.

Passed in 1997, Ordinance 716 allows restoration of a nonconforming building or structure to its condition prior to Hurricane Iniki making landfall on Kauai Sept. 11, 1992.

The law is crucial to blowing life into the iconic Wailua Beach resort, which has been closed for the last 21 years.

“If this ordinance is repealed, the planning and building process will be so difficult that it will make it economically unfeasible to rebuild the property,” the petition stated. “It will be the swan song for the resort we all love.”

The ordinance is the only remaining law from a set of measures passed in the aftermath of Iniki, which caused widespread destruction on Kauai.

The intent of the Iniki ordinances was to encourage and fast-track rebuilding on the island.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., who has pushed for the repeal of Ordinance 716, did not play a role in the petition being pulled from the Web, according to his staff.

“The mayor was not aware of the online petition until he read about it in the paper this morning,” county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka said Thursday.

Within a couple hours of being launched Wednesday, there were nearly 100 signatures and many written accounts from local residents and visitors.

On Thursday, The Garden Island received a handful of emails asking how to access and sign the petition, no longer online.

“The Coco Palms was the most special place we have ever been in all of our travels,” wrote Claudia Myers, of Lake in the Hills, Ill. She and her husband, Rick George Myers, got married on the property on Sept. 2, 1980, while Larry Rivera and his wife sang to them.

“Nothing compares — of course Grace Guslander cannot be replaced but you still have Larry and others who remember the magic that took place at the Coco Palms,” she said.

Myers and many others who signed the petition want to see the place rebuilt the way it was.

“It can be done, where is the love?” she said.

Tokioka said Carvalho has been made aware by the property owners of their intent to potentially rebuild the property.

“They are certainly within their legal rights to do that and he has no position on that at this time,” she said.

But the mayor has made clear his position on a potential repeal of Ordinance 716.

Tokioka said Carvalho was “pleased” the Planning Commission voted Tuesday to transmit the proposed repeal of the Iniki ordinance to the Kauai County Council.

Prior to the commission’s unanimous decision, Carvalho sent Commission Chair Wayne Katayma a letter, in which he states, “Your assistance in the timely passage of this bill would be greatly appreciated.”

Tokioka said the administration expects the planning director will now transmit the proposal to the council.

Bills introduced by the council are either by the initiative of council members or by request. All bills must pass first reading, then go to public hearing and through an appropriate committee before going back to the full council for second and final reading.

The mayor can choose to sign or veto a bill, or let it become law without his signature.

A mayoral veto can be overruled by five council votes, but Carvalho has never vetoed a council bill since taking office in December 2008.

“The highest priority for the mayor at this time is to see some movement on the property toward cleaning it and progressing toward some type of meaningful re-use,” Tokioka said. “He would hope that, whatever happens on the property, the historical and cultural significance of the area will be preserved.”

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or lazambuja@thegardenisland.com

© 2016 Thegardenisland.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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