A $6 Million 'Private Resort' Closes Off Public Access

posted in: December 2012 | 0

If anyone is in the market for a “private resort,” complete with swimming pool, water slide, high-dive platform, half a regulation NBA court, and a three-level house with seven bedrooms, eight and a half bathrooms, and kitchens on all levels, there’s one for sale in the little community of Pauka`a, just north of Hilo.

And it can be yours for $5.9 million – a steal if you consider it was originally priced at nearly $8 million. (For details, see the YouTube video posted by real estate broker Kelly Moran titled Honolii, By the Sea.)

If that’s out of your price league, you can still enjoy a stay in part of the house as a short-term rental. That will set you back more than $1,500 a night.

When the house was built, it was as a single family residence.

Back when the lot was being subdivided and initial grading was being done, the county Planning Department issued a cease-and-desist order and notice of violation to Scott Watson, who had at the time had no permits for any work on the site. He was required to obtain a stream channel alteration permit from the state Commission on Water Resource Management for work that affected Pauka`a Stream to the south of the parcel and submit a topo map and grading plan. He was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine as well for the unpermitted work.

On September 15, 2002, Watson wrote then-Planning Director Chris Yuen, stating that work to correct the violations was underway and asking him to “reconsider the $2,000 fine… I am on a tight budget to build the houses and have money trobles [sic] at home.” The fine was reduced to $1,000, which Watson paid in October.

When the Special Management Area permit was issued for the house lot, it included a provision that the public be allowed access to Pauka`a Stream on an easement that traversed the property. The map accompanying the permit shows the access clearly, stating that “pedestrian public access … goes between house and highway down to Pauka`a Stream.” The easement is also called out as condition 5 of the SMA permit.

Yet when a recent attempt was made to hike to the stream along the easement, the hiker was confronted by an angry dog and even angrier tenant, who insisted that the owner had informed him that no public access existed.

As far as the county is concerned, however, the easement is still on the books. The Planning Department currently investigating the matter.


Volume 23, Number 6 — December 2012

environment hawaii scott watson paukaa stream public access easement

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