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Amphitheater project draws noise concerns

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    An amphitheater being built in Kilauea
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The founder of E-Trade, the online discount stock broker, is building a $6 million pavilion in Kilauea featuring an indoor auditorium, outdoor amphitheater, conference room and certified kitchen.

The project is expected to provide a venue for youth-related events, hula performances, trade shows and concerts in the absence of an area community center.

While opponents have complained that noise from the amphitheater will be disruptive to area residents, the Kauai County Planning Commission approved a special-use permit for the pavilion.

William Porter and his wife, Joan, purchased 11.5 acres of industrial-zoned land in Kilauea in June 2006. During the 1990s, a use permit was obtained from a previous landowner to construct a strip mall and an industrial park, but the project was not developed due to a lack of funding.

After the Porters purchased the land, community input was sought and residents embraced the concept of a pavilion, said Michael Kaplan, project manager of the site, called Anaina Hou.

The proposed pavilion is the second phase of Anaina Hou. The first phase, which opened in December, includes a mini-golf course and a botanical garden. The final two phases will feature a park-and-ride site and plant nursery.

Porter said he and his wife want to build the pavilion to give back to the community.

"I don’t expect it to be profitable," he said. "It’s something that’s very much needed on the North Shore for all kinds of activities." 

The Porters first visited Kauai 26 years ago on their honeymoon. Since then, the couple became frequent visitors before moving to Princeville six years ago.

The amphitheater is slated to have about 250 seats in addition to lawn space to accommodate at least 100 people. Dee Crowell, deputy director of the Planning Department, described the structure as a tenth of the size of the Waikiki Shell.

Under the conditions of the special use permit, the developer is required to: 

» Limit sound levels from the pavilion to a maximum of 55 decibels at the northwest property line where the proposed pavilion shares a boundary with the Kalihiwai Ridge subdivision. Sound mitigation measures will be implemented.

» Restrict amplified music events at the outdoor amphitheater to no later than 6 p.m. on Sundays and 10 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and on city, state and federal holidays.

» Install a sound-monitoring system with sensors at the property line between property owned by members of the Kalihiwai association and the pavilion.

» Provide a monthly list of events to be held at the amphitheater that include amplified sound or music or loud percussive instruments to the Kalihiwai association.

Bill Booth, president of the association, said most residents at the subdivision support the project, but some oppose it based on land value concerns along with the noise issue.

"They thought it was going to depreciate the land value," Booth said.

Jim Gair, who shares a property line with the site, opposes the project because of the noise issue.

"How do you control the crowd noise?" asked Gair, former president of the Kalihiwai Ridge Community Association. "Ninety percent of people moved here to get away from the city noise and what comes along with it."

Gair, whose home is on 12 acres of land that he owns, also said he and some other area residents believe the value of their land will plummet with an outdoor amphitheater near their property.

"We feel like the conditions of the special use permit properly address any negative impacts to the neighbors," Kaplan said.

Building permits have yet to be obtained for the pavilion. If approved, construction is scheduled to begin in early 2012.

Kilauea resident Joe Halasey, who also shares a property line with the project, said he welcomes the pavilion. Halasey lives about 1,000 feet from the project site.

"I think it’ll provide opportunities for educational services, like teen events," said Halasey, who owns Banana Joe’s, a fruit stand next to the project site. "It’s a positive thing."

The pavilion also will generate more foot traffic to his fruit stand, he added.

Porter said any loud events will be held inside the auditorium.

The design of the pavilion is being finalized and is expected to be presented to the community in August.

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