Save rural Waimea Valley

SUBHEAD: Oahu's Ahko Property Inc requests Zoning Change to make money off rural Waimea lowland. Change of Open Space to R4 Urban Residential zoning detrimental to residents and nature of valley.

By Julia McGovern of Waimea Valley on 30 April 2010 in Garden Island - (

Image above: Kauai County Council Meeting on 14 April 2010 when Ahko Inc. property was brought up as agenda item. Photo by Juan Wilson.

 [IB Publisher's note: Walton Hong is a lawyer who has represented some of the most venal and insensitive land speculators that have done business on Kauai. Almost four years ago this Waimea land issue was raised and enough public outcry went up that Hong decided to withdraw the zoning appeal he was making for his client Oaho's Ahko Inc., and wait for another time to strike. Hong tried on 4/14/10 before the Kauai County Council and there was public present that testified against the change in zoning. The matter was postponed. Walton Hong will strike again on May 5th 2010 at the County Council meeting. Be there!]  

No residential zoning in Waimea flood plain 
I have lived on Maile Road for 20 years. Here in Waimea, on Menehune Road, adjacent to Ching Park and my back yard, is a property once filled with trees and birds. Home to kiawe and a variety of birds including pueo.

In 2006 this Open District land was back-hoed barren by its three-generation owners who live off island. I still grieve the loss of this beauty. The owners of this lot (TMK: (4)-1-6-05:18) sought to amend the zoning in 2006 to R6. Meeting with great neighbor and county resident opposition (a petition of 130 names and concerned-public testimony) Ahko Inc. withdrew their request to amend the zoning.

As an “O” zoned property (open district), the owners built a single dwelling last year on this now-cleared land which they rent to one tenant and the weed-filled portion to someone with horses.

On Wednesday May 5, Ahko Inc.’s attorney will appear before the (Kaua‘i County Council) Planning Committee to again petition to amend this “0” zoning to R4, Bill No. 2350. Now I am concerned about the repercussions for everyone and everything around this property, if this critical flood plain is lost forever.

The property is zoned open district for a very good reason. Bordered by Keali‘i Ditch and sitting on former rice farms, it has always been a place for waters to rise and recede. When heavy rains and back flow from Waimea River during high tides and ocean swells cause the ditch to overflow, its soil (and once vegetation) is an essential “green space” to ameliorate flooding of all surrounding properties.

Moreover, according to the county wastewater department, Keali‘i Ditch is a protected waterway under the Federal Clean Water Act because it discharges into the Waimea River which discharges into the ocean.

Before any zoning is amended or permit is issued a watershed-engineering analysis of the area must be done. A watershed plan must be created and adhered to for the health and safety of the land and people.

What to do with these flood waters is currently addressed as a crisis without a preventative watershed plan in place. The Keali‘i Ditch has had trees chopped from its banks, weeds sprayed with Round-Up and back-hoes dredging it, possibly without the necessary state permits.

This is no way to treat a waterway that should be maintained as a functioning watershed. Residents such as myself have to call the police to dredge open the Waimea river mouth when the ditch backs up onto the roads and into our yards.

Not long ago, a back-hoe was sent to dredge the ditch, causing severe erosion of my property. These are crisis responses that do harm; we need to act preventively in caring for these green spaces.

We must heed our “General Plan” which states that Waimea remain rural.

Adding housing, condos, concrete, asphalt, sidewalks, driveways and the like that come with R4 zoning in such a watershed/green space would be a grave mistake for our neighborhood, making a problem we already have a much larger one.

Deny Ahko Inc. Zoning Change in Waimea Valley  

By Linda Harmon of Hanapepe Valley on 30 May 2010 - 

  I am against any ordinance change at the Ahko Inc. property in Waimea Valley from open space usage to R4. The owners tried to change the ordinance back in 2006 but withdrew their request when they were faced with possible rejection.

The owners would like to increase the value by a stroke of council approval so they can build condominiums for sale to the detriment of the valley residents. This change would be significant to the rural character of the valley which the Kauai General Plan enacted after much citizen participation in the year 2000.

The valleys of Kauai have been dedicated to agrarian use throughout its past in part because of good soil for growing and rural life style due to the potential for flooding. Now that the levee has failed to meet new certification requirements residents will have to pay flood insurance or risk having to pay out of pocket expenses for damages due to flooding.

Putting more buildings and paving over a good portion of the lot will increase the likelihood of flooding and costly rebuilding in the area. The Kauai General Plan is our guidance in planning buildings for the long term.

 It calls for the valleys to remain rural in character. It calls for the low laying land adjoining the park that includes a natural drainage for the surrounding area to remain open with buildings on no more than 15% of the property.


Anonymous said...

I think his first name is Walton.

Juan Wilson said...

Aloha Anonymous,

I believe you are correct.Mahalo.

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