Alii Drive fence spurs violation notice

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HILO —A Kailua-Kona couple’s plans to replace a 50-year-old wall fronting their Alii Drive property has run afoul of county permitting laws.

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HILO —A Kailua-Kona couple’s plans to replace a 50-year-old wall fronting their Alii Drive property has run afoul of county permitting laws.

Ken and Margie Kimura Ryan are replacing their old 3-foot-tall rock wall with a 6-foot-tall lava rock one and adding landscaping to help shield their small lot from traffic. Their master bedroom is just 4 feet behind the fence, they said.

“We think it’s reasonable what we’re requesting, given the history of the site, the uniqueness of the site, the concerns of Public Works, the fact that this was built in the 1960s and has existed; it’s not new construction,” Ken Ryan said in testimony. “It’s construction that would replace what’s been there for a long, long time and it would give us some sense of peace and security.”

The Ryans, as required, applied for and received a special management area permit from the state, and then went for building permits from the county. But, in what has become a yearlong process, it wasn’t clear to Public Works that the couple wanted to do construction in what legally is the roadway.

“Mr. Ryan has done construction in the street, and admittedly wants to put an encroachment into the street without having the proper agreement,” said Deputy Corporation Counsel Ronald Kim, representing Public Works.

The couple has, in the meantime, erected a baffle-board fence along the roadway.

Public Works has recommended taking out the old wall and landscaping and laying down asphalt to provide more parking along the narrow roadway. That’s the last thing the Ryans want.

That option could make some Alii Drive bicyclists happy, though.

“I feel it would be very dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists as they pass the property if there is a wall permitted that close to the road,” said neighbor Timothy Smith in March 3 written testimony to the Board of Appeals. “There is no room to evade traffic.”

After receiving a notice of violation from the Department of Public Works, the Ryans turned to the county Board of Appeals for help. The board, after holding hearings in Kona in February and April, voted 5-0 that the Ryans were in violation.

Board members were nonetheless sympathetic.

“It seems to me that these guys are trying to do everything that they can to do the right thing, and then you guys are saying, you know, from the county side, you can’t do anything in the right of way,” said board member Henry Kaaihue. “But … the whole house is in the right of way.”

“They can’t build it any other way because it’s surrounded by water,” Kaaihue added. “The house is small already; it’s 932 square feet. I have a man cave that’s bigger than that. I don’t know what else they can do.”

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The Board of Appeals was scheduled Friday to finalize its findings of fact and conclusions of law and decision and order, but agreed to postpone the action until further notice at the request of both the Ryans and Public Works. The Ryans want more time to work out a compromise they think the county would be comfortable with.

“It’s a rabbit hole,” Ryan described the process he and his wife have gone through over the past year. “We’re not doing anything new. It was replacing what’s been there for 50 years, the landscape and the 3-foot rock wall out front.”

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