Maui Land evicts squatters
A couple claims the land where they built their house belongs to native Hawaiians
HALIIMAILE, Maui » Some 20 Maui police officers evicted a couple from a home on the Valley Isle for allegedly squatting on private land owned by Maui Land & Pineapple Co.
But the couple, William "Bill" Domen, 50, and his wife Joann, 46, charged the company has no clear title to the land whose last owner was Miriam Kekauonohi, a governor of the Hawaiian kingdom in the late 1800s.
Joann Domen, a native Hawaiian, said she received permission through a descendant of Kekauonohi to stay on the land.
Maui Land spokesman Bill Green said his firm has checked the records with Title Guaranty to confirm its ownership and the Domens never produced a document to substantiate their claim.
Green said the agricultural land also did not have the building permits required for a residence and the firm was aware of complaints by neighbors.
GARY T. KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
A bulldozer clears an area near a Maui house built by alleged squatters William and Joann Domen. The Domens, part of a native Hawaiian sovereignty group, say Maui Land & Pineapple Co. does not own clear title to the land.
"Most of them are single elderly residents. They just want to be safe," Green said.
Workers hired by Maui Land removed six boats, a horse trailer, the foundations and frame of an unfinished house, along with trucks and tents.
Three horses and a couple of dogs were put into the care of a friend of the Domens.
The Domens, part of a Hawaiian sovereignty group associated with the Ko Hawaii Pae Aina Registry, were arrested at 8:17 a.m. yesterday and charged with second-degree trespassing.
They were released after posting $100 bail each.
Also arrested was their friend John Belles, 43, a member of Ko Hawaii Pae Aina, who was charged with second-degree trespassing and first-degree terroristic threatening.
He posted $1,100 bail.
Joann Domen, whose group claims 300 members, said she and her husband had been keeping three horses on the land for about eight years under a sublease, when the lessor decided two years ago not to renew the lease.
"We said we're not going to get out, because Maui Pine doesn't own it anyway," she said.
Domen estimated the property left behind was worth $150,000.
Green said his firm was moving the property into storage for the Domens and others to claim, but whatever could not be moved would be demolished.
"We're trying to be as respectful as we can. ... Hopefully, they'll make some arrangements to claim the property," Green said.
He said the Domens were notified months earlier that they should move and were served with a notice of trespass on Oct. 11.
Green, who has worked for the firm since 1991, said the firm has had people squat on the land temporarily, but never seen permanent structures built.