Sunday, October 10, 2004

OHA contests Big
Island resort proposal

It says a tentative lease to the
Hilton Waikoloa is undervalued

KAILUA-KONA >> The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has objected to a proposal for the state to accept rent from the Hilton Waikoloa resort in West Hawaii for the use of state shoreline land, calling it a "breach of trust."

The issue is likely to be considered in a trial-like contested case hearing before the state Board of Land and Natural Resources rather than in a vote at one of the board's regular meetings.

Temporary Land Board Chairman Tim Johns halted board consideration of the matter yesterday on the assumption that OHA is likely to ask for the contested case hearing.

The state has a tentative agreement with resort operator Global Resort Partners to charge $55,000 a year for 1.3 acres originally thought to be private land but in 1997 determined by a federal court to be state land.

The acreage was also determined to be "ceded" land, meaning land of the Hawaiian government before Hawaii became a U.S. territory. State law gives OHA a percentage of the income from all such lands.

The proposed $55,000 rent would increase by 30 percent every 10 years of the 65-year lease, which starts in 1997.

In a letter presented to the Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday, OHA Administrator Clyde Namu'o said $55,000 is less than the $72,000 that Global is paying on an interim basis, and much less than the $192,000 a year that a state appraiser said the land is worth.

The letter called for a contested case hearing if the Land Board accepted the $55,000 proposal.

Besides the rent for the 1.3 acres, unresolved issues are payment for another half-acre that is underwater in the resort's artificial lagoon, and a land exchange that would eventually give resort landowner Lanpar/HTL Associates clear ownership of the disputed land.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs



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