The Hawai`i Supreme Court has issued its long-awaited decision in the `Aina Le`a case. For those needing a reminder, that case involves the development of about 1,000 acres of land near Waikoloa, in the Big Island district of South Kohala.
The developer, DW Aina Le`a Development, LLC, and the owner of most of the land, Bridge Aina Le`a, LLC, had sued the state Land Use Commission (LUC) and the Office of Planning, alleging that the LUC’s decision reverting the land back to the Agricultural District did not follow proper procedures and, in addition, amounted to an unconstitutional taking of property.
Judge Elizabeth Strance of the 3rd Circuit Court found in favor of the plaintiffs’ claims: first, by ruling that the LUC did violate its governing statutes by failing to resolve in timely fashion its December 9, 2008, order to show cause why the land, placed in the Urban District in 1989, should not revert to the Agricultural District; second, by also allowing DWAL and Bridge to introduce nearly 10,000 pages of documents from other LUC dockets into the record before the court; and third, by finding that the LUC did violate DWAL and Bridge’s due process rights and rights to equal protection under the state and U.S. Constitutions.
The Supreme Court upheld Strance’s ruling, finding that state law does require the LUC to act on an order to show cause within 365 days of its issuance. In this case, the OSC, first issued in December 2008, was not voted on until 2011.
On all other matters, however, the lower court was overturned. The Supreme Court ordered the case remanded to the circuit court “for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”
Environment Hawai`i has reported extensively on the `Aina Le`a development. All articles are available through our online Archives (click on the link in the upper right corner of this page).