Sherry Broder


Developer Gives Up Reclassification Bid for Site-rich Po'ipu Tract

August 2007

A Kaua'i landowner may have shelved a development project planned for a 127-acre tract of land on the island's south side that area residents feared would endanger the property's numerous archaeological sites.

In July, the Eric A. Knudsen Trust withdrew its petition with the state Land Use Commission to change the classification of the 127-acre property located in Koloa, from agricultural to urban. The reclassification was critical for the trust's plans to develop a 203-acre residential community called Village at Po'ipu.

"We decided that we have other projects that are more suc¬cessful and that our time would be better spent focusing on those," said Stacey Wong, trustee for the Knudsen Trust. "We have no plans for the property at this time."

Sherry Broder, an attorney who represented OHA in the public hearings before the state, called the Knudsen Trust's decision to pull its petition "a tremendous victory."

"Many of these archaeological sites are from 1200 AD," she said. "There's just not many of them left."

The proposed development is located in Po'ipu, in the district of Koloa, an area that once sustained a thriving Native Hawaiian community. The area's rocky and dry landscape was used up until the 19th century to grow wet taro, 'uala (sweet potato) and sugar cane. A sophisticated irrigation system delivered water to the Po'ipu taro patches from neighboring areas.

Today, many of the archaeological remnants of the Hawaiian settlement in Po'ipu still exist, including house sites, rock walls and portions of the raised 'auwai (ditch) system.

The 127-acre site at the center of the dispute would have allowed the trust to develop an additional 98 one-acre, single family house lots. According to the project's proposed final environmental impact study, 50-foot buffers would be created around each archaeological site, and preserves would be cre¬ated around the larger archaeological complexes.

The Kaua'i County Council unanimously passed a resolu¬tion recommending that the state not reclassify the property. In addition, OHA and the Kaua'i Historic Preservation Review Commission also came out in opposition to the trust's reclas¬sification petition.

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