Thursday, September 13, 2001

Children visiting Mookini Heiau at the northern
end of the Big Island in June approached the
walled enclosure across the surrounding lawn.

Big Island
developer faces
2 access disputes

Questions linger over Chalon
International's planned access
to a heiau and a beach

By Rod Thompson

NORTH KOHALA, Hawaii >> In the Big Island's northernmost district, access to land and sea is in dispute.

Leimomi Mookini Lum, high priestess of 1,500-year-old Mookini Luakini Heiau, disputes the intentions of North Kohala landholder Chalon International of Hawaii Inc., owner of 16,000 acres there.

Separately, Chalon disputes the requirement for shoreline access that Hawaii County is attaching to the company's request to reconfigure 3,303 acres in five areas.

At the heiau, events under way could block access or assure it, depending on who is talking.

Lum is opposing court action by Chalon to quiet title to land near the heiau including a former railroad right of way which is now an access road.

Lum says the road was a traditional footpath before the railroad.

Chalon Vice President Duane Kanuha says old maps show the footpath was elsewhere.

Lum, who admits not being on speaking terms with Chalon, says the company wants to close the road.

Kanuha denies that. The company's action is setting the stage for permanent access requested by Lum from the Legislature in 1992, he says.

Although the state took possession of the heiau in 1978, it is required to consult with Lum on major matters.

At Lum's urging in 1992, the Legislature passed Act 166 calling for a Kohala Historical Sites State Monument surrounded by a buffer zone and including access. The act was never implemented.

The purpose of present land use changes is to "position our properties below the railroad right of way for eventual discussions to implement the monument bill," Kanuha said.

At Lum's request, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources will hear a briefing tomorrow on the 9-year-old law.

Meanwhile, Chalon applied to the county to reconfigure land in five areas for eventual sale, including land next to the heiau.

Chalon started the five reconfigurations during the administration of Mayor Stephen Yamashiro, which gave preliminary approval.

The new administration of Mayor Harry Kim added requirements for shoreline access. Planning Director Chris Yuen cites a county code provision that requires shoreline access every 1,500 to 2,500 feet.

Kanuha says Yuen cannot impose new conditions because no rules were ever adopted to implement the county code.

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