LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i Planning Commission approved the consolidation of two large lots where the Hanalei Plantation Resort is being proposed to be developed.
“We’re happy with the outcome of today’s meeting, and glad to be moving forward with our project,” Michelle Swartman said in a statement after the meeting. She is the director of land and community development at ‘Ohana Hanalei LLC, the company in charge of the project.
But not everyone was happy at the meeting. North Shore residents Carl Imparato and Maka‘ala Ka‘aumoana testified against the consolidation.
Ka‘aumoana said the application for the land consolidation was incomplete and inaccurate, and therefore the request should be denied.
“We believe this consolidation will increase the value of this developer’s property (and) may limit some of the county’s options to address some of the serious issues that development of this land includes,” said Ka‘aumoana, adding that the commission should ask ‘Ohana Hanalei to resubmit the application.
The two parcels include the ridge alongside Hanalei River, on the hillside leading from Princeville to Hanalei, and the land immediately north of the ridge, encompassing a sloped area leading to the ocean, including an ancient Hawaiian fishpond now covered by a marsh. The two parcels are now one lot measuring roughly 63 acres.
“The county should be using every means at its disposal to protect this land, as inappropriate development would destroy one of Kaua‘i’s most critical viewplanes,” Imparato said of the Hanalei River Ridge.
He also asked the commission to deny Hanalei ‘Ohana’s application for land consolidation, based on incorrect and insufficient information.
Imparato said there were incorrect zoning classifications in the application, regarding hotel, resort and open zoning.
The Housing Agency was the only county department that caught the mistakes, he said.
Additionally, he said, there was incomplete information about “proposed lots” and “additional lots” in the application, and insufficient information regarding the proposed development, which restricts the ability of many agencies to provide thoughtful review.
‘Ohana Hanalei plans to develop an 86-unit, bungalow-style resort on the portion of the land that runs toward the marsh where the fishpond once existed. On top of the ridge, the developers plan to sell or develop 34 lots, likely to be home sites, with 25 of them facing Hanalei River. Since the zoning is hotel and resort, the homes would theoretically be allowed as transient vacation rentals.
The site is also in Princeville, which is a Visitor Destination Area and allows transient vacation rentals.
The ridge development is the project’s first phase, to be followed by the development of the resort and the fishpond’s restoration.
The proposed development on the ridge has faced much criticism from the Hanalei community, out of concerns that the ridge will resemble the bluff overlooking Nawiliwili Bay in Lihu‘e. A petition at www.hanaleiridge.com to stop the ridge development had 4,286 signatures as of Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, Hanalei Plantation developers are saying there will be many conditions that would prevent the type of development that the community is fearing, and that the project will be culturally and environmentally sensitive. It also will provide many jobs for the local community, they said.
‘Ohana Hanalei still has to submit an Environmental Impact Statement this summer, then they have to apply for county Special Management Area permits, according to Swartman.
As the project moves along, there will be many opportunities for public comments, she added.
• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or lazambuja@ thegardenisland.com.