Condemn Maui ranch, group urges
After Molokai Ranch rescinds its plans to close, residents worry about safety issues
WAILUKU » A group of residents has asked the Maui County Council to condemn Molokai Ranch's property, including 60,000 acres of land and its former resorts at Kaluakoi and Maunaloa.
Hui Ho'opakele Aina coordinator Walter Ritte said a petition with more than 500 signatures requested the council to authorize funding for an appraisal, as part of the condemnation.
The group, whose representatives met with the council's policy committee last week, said it was worried about the health and safety of residents in light of Molokai Ranch's prior announcement that it wanted to shut down its water and sewage utilities.
Though Molokai Ranch later rescinded its plan and said recent water rates increases will allow it to operate, Hui Ho'opakele Aina said it has received no assurance that the ranch plans to continue operation permanently.
The policy committee deferred action on the petition, but its chairman Danny Mateo said he would be looking at several options to help Molokai residents, including condemnation.
Some of the 10 Molokai residents who visited the Maui Council chambers also criticized the ranch's foreign ownership and its closure of resort and golf operations in April, laying off more than 120 employees.
"The whole family is here because there's no jobs on Molokai," said Donald Dudoit, a former ranch worker.
Cheryl Sakamoto, a landowner at Papohaku Ranchlands since 2002, said she and her husband purchased the property whose private utility is operated by the ranch.
Sakamoto said that with the ranch's announcement of the closure of the private utility, the appraised value of her property dropped 20 percent.
Molokai resident DeGray Vanderbilt said that with the drop in property values, he thinks the ranch's property could be far less than its 2006 stated value of $200 million.
Vanderbilt said that as a part of a consortium, two businesses have committed $100 million toward the purchase. He said the cost of the appraisal might range from $60,000 to $65,000.
Ranch official Peter Nicholas declined comment.