Work on Ewa wall
can go on

A judge lifts a temporary
restraining order on condition
that community input is followed

Haseko Inc. can resume construction of a retaining wall along the Ocean Pointe subdivision in Ewa Beach, a state judge has ruled, but only after the community's concerns are reflected in a new design for the wall and the developer obtains the required permits.

Circuit Judge Victoria Marks lifted a temporary restraining order yesterday that had halted all work by Haseko Inc. on the retaining wall since June 29.

She also denied resident Craig Smallwood's motion for a preliminary injunction that would have required Haseko to demolish the wall and start over by following proper procedures for a planned development housing.

After a three-day hearing, Marks ruled yesterday that Haseko had given Smallwood and the public appropriate notice of its development plans so that residents had the opportunity to examine the plans.

Based on the evidence, she said, there was no basis for a preliminary injunction because it is not likely Smallwood would prevail on the merits of his case, nor has he shown "irreparable harm."

Outside the courtroom, Smallwood mustered a smile and said he is happy that Haseko will at least be redesigning the wall.

"I feel like I made a statement and Haseko is forced to respond, and hopefully, business won't be done the way it's been done," he said.

In court, Smallwood had argued that Haseko built the wall illegally without giving proper notice to the community and without the proper permits and environmental studies. He and other residents had claimed that the wall blocked the ocean and mountain views, created potential flooding into their homes along Papipi Road and raised other environmental issues.

During the three-day hearing, experts hired by Haseko testified that the wall had no significant impact on air quality or traffic noise and that drainage systems were sufficient.

Randall Ishikawa, attorney for Haseko, said the developer had obtained a series of permits, but the last one needed was a fine grading permit. Haseko applied for one in November and started construction on the wall before the permit was actually issued.

The litigation forced the community and developer to work together, he said. "The outcome is something Haseko and, to an extent, Mr. Smallwood as well can take some pride in, in that they were able to get some sort of consensus as to what the retaining structure should be."

As a result of three mediation meetings in July between the community and Haseko, the developer proposed a new design of the wall and installation of a supplemental drainage system.

The plans require some demolition of the existing wall. Instead of a three-tiered retaining wall that went as high as 18 feet in some areas, it would only go as high as 6 feet with a grassy slope above it, topped with a garden wall. The grade behind the garden wall would vary between 12 to 18 feet above the Papipi Road level.

Kenneth Choate, executive vice president for Haseko Construction Inc., said they expect to have the drawings for the redesigned retaining wall submitted to the city as soon as possible so they can be processed and approved and work can be resumed.

Judge Marks commended Smallwood, who is not a lawyer and represented himself, for his efforts. "There's been mediation and proposed design changes, and it's through your efforts that that occurred," she said. "Hats off to you."



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