Commission defers decision on wedding business permit

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The Leeward Planning Commission on Monday deferred decision on an after-the-fact permit for a wedding venue in the coffee-growing region of Holualoa.

Following several hours of testimony and discussion, commissioners voted 7-0 to defer decision on the application by Douglas and Kathryn Hickey, who have grown coffee at Sunshower Farm for the past seven years, and for the past three, were supplementing their agricultural income by offering the farm for weddings.

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The commission said the deferral would provide additional time for the Hickeys to work with neighbors to mete out concerns over traffic, noise and other issues.

“I hope that the Hickeys will be able to use that same ability that they have in putting together this entire group of people who came out to support them to work within their own neighborhood to reach a consensus on how you can move forward in agreement with your neighbors,” said Commissioner Michael Vitousek. … “Hopefully, they’ll be willing to come to the table. I think the problem is that so many people are unwilling to find middle ground. And I think Kathy, with your ability that you demonstrated here, I think you can do that, I think that you can find middle ground with your neighbors and you can come back with an application that people support.”

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The Planning Department had recommended the commission deny the application, finding the wedding business contrary to the objectives laid out in state land use law.

The property, in the state agricultural district, is located at 76-1297 Waiono Ranch Road, about 1.5 miles east and mauka of the Mamalahoa Highway-Waiono Ranch Road intersection. The 2.25-acre lot is part of a 20-acre condominium property regime unit which is part of Waiono Meadows subdivision, an 11-lot subdivision created in 1987 with lot sizes ranging from 38 to 1,068 acres.

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