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Waimea 400 plan shows paths forward

WAIMEA — The Waimea 400 Conceptual Master Plan, a community-driven document that will guide the development of 417 county-owned acres between Kekaha and Waimea, is complete.

Kaua‘i Planning Department personnel and a consultant presented the finished product at the March 9 Kaua‘i County Council meeting, about one year after the planning process began.

“This is a unique situation, where the county actually owns this property,” Planning Director Kaʻaina Hull said. “The county and the Planning Department can work with the community to truly manifest exactly what they want there.”

Residents’ top five uses for the Waimea 400 parcel, determined through a yearlong series of public-input opportunities, are paths and trails, wetland restoration, small farms and/or an agriculture-incubator project, housing and a farmers’ market area. Short, mid- and long-term efforts to attain each of these goals are outlined in the conceptional master plan.

The 62-page plan’s final map also includes other popular features, like an outdoor amphitheater, a play area for children, sports facilities, a skate park and an equestrian path.

But planning personnel and consultant Kimi Yuen, of Honolulu-based PBR Hawai‘i &Associates, Inc., reminded the public nothing is set in stone.

“Unlike comprehensive plans, which are policy plans … this conceptual master plan is really a hypothetical layout and guide for the future development of the area,” the Planning Department’s Waimea 400 Project Manager Lea Kai‘aokamalie said. “The purpose of the conceptual master plan was to engage our community on the potential for recreation, housing or economic uses that would best serve West Kaua‘i and Kaua‘i at large.”

The conceptual plan was also described as an “adaptation plan,” which studied past and present environmental conditions to account for the projected impacts of
climate change. Planners, therefore, divided their map of the Waimea 400 into five preliminary zones based on flood risk.

County councilmembers voiced general approval of the document.

Some, including Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro, echoed Kai‘aokamalie’s comments regarding the nature of the conceptual plan.

“I want to remind the public that it is a 30,000-foot view, and you still need to be active in the planning,” Kaneshiro said. “…For me, the message to the Westside is, ‘Continue to stay involved with this plan.’”

The plan can be viewed online at waimea400.com/.

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Scott Yunker, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or syunker@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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