(Posted December 23, 2013)
The Land Use Commission’s approval of a controversial O`ahu housing development known as Koa Ridge has been tossed out by the state Supreme Court. In an opinion written by Associate Justice Paula A. Nakayama and signed by the three other associate justices, the deciding vote on the petition for reclassification that was cast by Big Island member Duane Kanuha should not have counted.
Kanuha’s nomination for a second term on the LUC had been rejected by the Senate in April 2010, but Gov. Lingle retained him on the LUC as a holdover appointment. The Sierra Club, Hawai`i Chapter, challenged the validity of the LUC vote on Koa Ridge, claiming that Kanuha was not entitled to serve after his nomination was rejected.
The 1st Circuit Court agreed and reversed the LUC reclassification. The Intermediate Court of Appeals, however, disagreed. The Sierra Club then appealed to the Supreme Court, which has upheld the Circuit Court decision.
Even as the case was pending before the Supreme Court, developer Castle & Cooke pressed forward with efforts to win approvals at the county level. As recently as November, it seemed to have been given the green light by the Honolulu City Council.
Now, apparently, the case will go back to Square One in another hearing before the LUC. This one will be the third for Castle & Cooke, whose original LUC petition was rejected in another Supreme Court decision back in 2003.