Group wants S. Kona
luxury project halted

Plaintiffs ask the state to take
action against Hokulia's developers

Associated Press

KEALAKEKUA, Hawaii >> A group suing the developer of a luxury subdivision in South Kona has asked the state attorney general to enforce a judge's ruling last week that said the development was an illegal use of agricultural land.

Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra issued the order Friday saying the uses and activities outlined in documents by Hokulia's developers are in violation of state law governing use of land zoned for agricultural use.

The plaintiffs' attorney, Robert D.S. Kim, said Hawaii County has a conflict of interest in acting as the enforcement authority because it has signed a development agreement with Hokulia, which is being built on 1,550 acres along three miles above Kealakekua Bay.

Ibarra also found the county's reclassification of less than 15 acres on the property from agricultural to urban for a 70-unit resort lodge to be illegal spot zoning.

The judge also recognized Hokulia had legitimate concerns about its rights, and refused to stop the project.

In a letter this week, Kim asked Attorney General Earl Anzai to take appropriate action against Hokulia, "including but not limited to the issuance of cease-and-desist orders, mandating revocation of county permits and approvals to conform with the court's order and applicable state land use laws in this case."

Deputy Attorney General Lawrence Lau was not available for comment.

The letter also was signed by Alan Murakami of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., which is a party in a lawsuit against Hokulia regarding the disturbance of ancient burials on the property.

John DeFries, Hokulia president, noted that the judge's order indicated that the project as a whole is not illegal. He said he was not sure what the plaintiffs' objective was in asking the attorney general to intervene.

"I hate to second-guess what they're doing," DeFries said. "I would prefer to let it play itself out."

The lawsuit goes to trial on Tuesday.

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