New & Noteworthy: Big Island Developments, DLNR Departures

posted in: September 2012 | 0

`Aina Le`a Appeal: The Hawai`i County Planning Department has approved the application for a planned unit development (PUD) consisting of 70 single-family residential lots on about 25 acres of land owned by `Aina Le`a, Inc. But on July 25, a month to the day following the approval letter for what `Aina Le`a is calling its Ho`olei development, the Mauna Lani Resort Association appealed to the county Board of Appeals.

Among other things, the appeal points out that that the legal challenge that the MLRA brought against the environmental impact statement prepared for the Villages of `Aina Le`a, of which the Ho`olei subdivision is one component, is still pending in state court. “The Planning Department should not have considered the PUD application until the challenge to the EIS was resolved,” wrote MLRA attorney Roy A. Vitousek III.

Also, he continued, “The PUD application is not consistent with representations made by the developer to the Land Use Commission, to the County Council when zoning was approved, and to numerous other agencies in public forae.”

One of the most potentially damaging claims made by the MLRA is that the application was signed by just one of the 900 or so registered legal owners of the land, as listed in the county’s real property tax records.

The Board of Appeals has scheduled a hearing on the matter for October 12.

Although Vitousek’s appeal does not mention it, between the time the PUD was initially sought (in September 2011) and the time it was approved (June 25), `Aina Le`a LLC, the applicant, was converted to a corporation and its home registration was shifted from Nevada to Delaware. (For more on this shift in corporate status, visit the Environment Hawai`i home page,, and scroll down the EH-Xtra column.)

And Waikaku`u, Too: The Hawai`i County Board of Appeals decision in the case of the PUD for Waikaku`u development in an old-growth `ohi`a forest is being challenged in 3rd Circuit Court. Although the board decided the case in July, in favor of the developer, not until mid-August was the formal decision given to appellants Patricia and Richard Missler.

Among other things, they challenge the BOA’s virtual dismissal of elements in the recently adopted Kona Community Development Plan. Rather than regard that plan as a hard-and-fast standard for future growth, the board viewed it more as advisory.

The Waikaku`u project would entail dividing a 52-acre parcel running from the Hawai`i Belt Road up the South Kona slopes of Mauna Kea into 13 two-acre lots in the heavily forested mauka area and one remainder lot of 41 acres in the makai portion. For more on this project, see the cover article in the June 2012 edition of Environment Hawai`i.

Conry to Depart DLNR: In December, Paul Conry is expected to retire from his position as administrator for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife. His retirement will follow the recent departure of former DLNR land deputy Guy Kaulukukui, now a senior vice president for land investment company Bio-Logical Capital.

The DLNR has lost a couple of administrators in recent years who have yet to be replaced, including Dan Polhemus of the Division of Aquatic Resources and Gary Moniz from the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.

Volume 23, Number 3 September 2012