Hokulia agreement awaits court OK
A hearing today will focus on a signed compromise
KAILUA-KONA » A lawsuit that has blocked the 1,550-acre Hokulia residential project in Kona since 2003 and caused massive uncertainty statewide about homes on agricultural land is expected to be substantially settled in Big Island Circuit Court today.
The court has a 1 p.m. hearing scheduled on the settlement, which has been negotiated and signed, according to several sources.
Filed in 2001, the lawsuit pitted Hawaiian cultural practitioners and environmentalists against developer 1250 Oceanside Partners over a series of problems such as storm water runoff and damage to graves and cultural features.
The most wide-ranging outcome was Judge Ronald Ibarra's 2003 and 2004 rulings that said Hokulia is an urban project that cannot be legally constructed on the agricultural land where it is located. Observers saw that as threatening a wide spectrum of residential projects on agricultural land across the state.
The settlement would allow resumption of the project, valued at $1 billion, into which developer 1250 Oceanside Partners has already invested $350 million. It would also allows resumption of work on a $55 million highway through the project, which is desperately needed to relieve traffic congestion on the Mamalahoa Highway upland from Hokulia.
One item which will remain is a state Supreme Court appeal of a judgment against Oceanside for allowing storm water runoff from the project to pollute the ocean in 2000. That will not block construction.
However, construction of the new highway may continue to be blocked by a separate legal dispute between the Coupe family and Hawaii County. The county has attempted to condemn a piece of Coupe land that the highway would cross, saying building the highway is a public purpose.
The coupe family has opposed the condemnation, saying the purpose is merely to benefit Oceanside.
Also expected to be announced today are the benefits that five opponents of Hokulia will obtain from Oceanside for the community in exchange for ending their opposition.
All parties to the lawsuit have been tightlipped, but previous negotiations tentatively placed the value of community benefits in the millions.