Wednesday, February 10, 1999

City Council
approves park despite
heated objections

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


The City Council's Planning Committee, despite lingering questions, has approved legislation paving the way for an Aina Haina Nature Preserve.

The committee voted 4-1 yesterday to designate as park land 94.7 acres that developers have proposed for a cemetery.

The action set the stage for another heated discussion this afternoon when the Budget Committee meets to decide whether the city should spend up to $5 million purchasing the two parcels.

Councilman Jon Yoshimura, the sole dissenting vote yesterday, said approval of the park would set a bad precedent.

Lorrie Stone, an attorney for the landowner and developer, has threatened legal action against the city for denying permission for a cemetery.

Yoshimura, however, said Stone has no grounds for arguing that a "taking" of land use rights had occurred -- unless the Council set up a park symbol in the development plan public facilities map and moves toward condemnation of the property.

Yoshimura blasted Budget Director Malcolm Tom for proposing $5 million in bond money be allocated before completion of an appraisal.

Tom said the dollar amount in a capital improvements supplementary budget request was a tentative one arrived at by the appraiser last month after having worked on the issue for some 18 months.

Councilwoman Donna Mercado Kim said the Council is being forced into the purchase because Mayor Jeremy Harris promised Aina Haina residents that no development would take place on the properties.

"I am not pleased about having to spend $5 million," Kim said. "But I think we're going to be saving money in the long run."

Tom said the city administration was simply acting at the behest of Council members. But when pressed by Yoshimura to say by whom, Tom refused to answer.

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