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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, March 1, 2002

Proposal upsets Kaua'i farmers

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

LIHU'E, Kaua'i — The green agricultural lands on Kaua'i are increasingly spotted with houses instead of crops, an issue that worries Planning Director Dee Crowell.

Most agricultural landowners, speaking at a public hearing yesterday before the Kaua'i County Council, said they don't like Crowell's solution: reducing the number of houses allowed on such lots.

"This amendment would rob or steal or take away from me half the value of my land," said north shore farmer David Whatmore. He said his property now qualifies for three homes and a guest house without a kitchen, and would be limited to two homes under Crowell's plan.

Also, farmers say they would have less ability to use the houses as a way to finance their agricultural ventures, and the landowners would not be able to build homes for their children.

The council took no action on the issue and will schedule a workshop to discuss it further.

Crowell and previous planners have expressed concern that the high density Kaua'i allows on its nonresidential land is robbing the island of its future for agriculture.

Today, on agriculture-zoned land, if landowners have 13 acres or more, they can build up to five houses. If the land is zoned "open" — a category covering undeveloped land that tends not to be prime for agriculture — the owner can build one house per five acres. Thus, a 100-acre parcel could qualify for 20 houses.

Crowell has proposed, and the Planning Commission has supported, a plan that would allow just two houses per lot, whether open or agricultural. The legislation is contained in council bills 2022 and 2023.

"We're trying to reduce sprawl where agricultural use really disappears," Crowell said.

If property is more appropriate for residential uses, owners could seek rezoning to rural residential or urban residential designations, he said.