Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Developer appeals
Kona trail ruling

1250 Oceanside Partners says
a court was wrong in labeling an
ancient trail as a public highway

By Russ Lynch

The developer of the 1,550-acre Hokulia residential and golf-course project in Kona is seeking to overturn a lower-court ruling that said an ancient Hawaiian trail on the property is a "public highway."

The developer, 1250 Oceanside Partners, has filed a notice of appeal with the Hawaii Supreme Court, saying an Oct. 9 decision by Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra was wrong.

Oceanside said it can suffer irreparable harm because the decision improperly takes away some of its land and gives it to the state. The Kona partnership said the order threatens the development of 60 one-acre lots worth a total of $100 million and could interfere with public access to a proposed 140-acre shoreline park in the project, near Kealakekua.

At issue is what Oceanside refers to as an "alleged" Hawaii trail. Opponents of the development, including ocean kayaker Walter "Jack" Kelly and others who want to restore the trail, say it is an historic passageway and must be kept open.

Oceanside is arguing that Ibarra should not have made such a property decision without exhausting all other remedies. The Supreme Court filing also says that Ibarra ruled in an earlier decision that the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring a case arguing that the state owns the land.

The state itself has not brought a claim and in the earlier ruling Ibarra dismissed all claims that would have required the state to take over the trail, the developer's appeal said.

Oceanside's filing refers to the trail as "a collection of short isolated segments of water-worn stone, sometimes only being comprised of one or more stones."

Attorneys on both sides of the case could not be reached for comment late yesterday.

Robert Kim, Big Island attorney for Kelly and other plaintiffs, earlier called the Oct. 9 decision a "landmark" ruling. Oceanside had already been allowed to dismantle about 380 feet of the stone trail because it was not on state maps, Kim said at the time.

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