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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, November 29, 2004

Kahala beach fence up to city

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Writer

KAHALA — The state department overseeing O'ahu's beaches opposes a property owner's request to build a fence within the state shoreline area, citing "serious concerns" about the owner's justification for the fence.

The owner, Ned Weldon, is trying to replace a fence that washed away during a rainstorm in February and place it within the shoreline setback area, which is 40 feet mauka from the certified shoreline, or vegetation line, said his consultant, Don Clegg.

The home, in the 4700 block of Kahala Avenue, is next to a drainage canal, and storm water undermined the footings of the fence, he said.

The owner later placed large rocks near his property line to support his fence.

Some residents along the Kahala beach take issue with a fence so close to the shoreline. Not only would it impede walking access along the beach during high tide, but it also would be the only fence in a half-mile stretch of the beach from the Kahala Mandarin Oriental hotel to the diamondhead side of the Hunakai Street beach accessway, said Lucinda Pyles, a Kahala resident opposed to the idea.

"The rocks are tampering with the shoreline, and there are long-term concerns anytime you tamper with the shoreline," Pyles said. "You threaten the beach. No one wants people to tamper with the shoreline."

In addition to seeking permission to build a new fence within the shoreline setback area, Weldon is asking for after-the-fact approval for the 93 tons of sand he placed within the shoreline setback to level off the property.

The new fence will require fence posts buried deep into the ground with tight tension wire connected to each post, Clegg said.

The city had asked residents to submit comments on the proposal. As Weldon's consultant, Clegg is in the process of responding to their concerns. The next step is for the owner to file a final environmental assessment and ask the city for a shoreline setback variance for the fence and the sand, said city spokeswoman Carol Costa.

In its letter to Weldon, the state Department of Conservation and Coast Lands recommended that the city have him remove the rocks and relocate the proposed fence to outside the 40-foot shoreline setback. The state said it believes that the proposed fence does not serve to protect the residence from erosion because the house is more than 55 feet from the shoreline.

Clegg said the state's opposition has little bearing, as the decision is in the city's hands. Clegg said he does not expect to complete responses to residents' concerns until the new year.

A public hearing will be scheduled after the final environmental study is completed and the owner submits an application for the variance, Costa said.

Pyles and other residents are hoping the city will revoke its initial permit that allowed Weldon to build a fence because they believe he violated the permit rules by bringing in the sand and rocks.

"We haven't heard anything about that yet," Pyles said.

"Most property owners have open yards to the beach. Others have low vegetation to define their property from the beach.

"It sets a precedent to put a fence on the sand. It visually closes off access."

Reach Suzanne Roig at sroig@honoluluadvertiser.com or 395-8831.