Offer divides
Hokulia critics

KAILUA-KONA » A split between opponents of the Kona luxury residential project Hokulia widened yesterday as three of the five main critics announced continuing talks with the developer about a settlement.

Two days earlier, two other opponents rejected a settlement with developer 1250 Oceanside Partners.

"It's sort of like the Palestinians. You have guys who want to (make peace) and guys that don't," said attorney Robert Kim, who represents clients on both sides of the divide.

Hokulia is a 1,550-acre development in which 1-acre home sites are generally priced at $1 million and higher.

In 2003, ruling on a lawsuit brought primarily by the five opponents, Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra halted the development, saying Hokulia is an urban project illegally built on agricultural land.

Some business interests have said Ibarra's ruling creates broad uncertainty about development in Hawaii, although other developers have simply followed Ibarra's ruling and applied to the state Land Use Commission for appropriate land designation.

Oceanside has an appeal of Ibarra's ruling pending in the state Supreme Court, but a settlement could rapidly end the dispute.

On Wednesday, Jim Medeiros and Jack Kelly, officers in Protect Keopuka Ohana opposing the project, rejected an offer from Oceanside principal Lyle Anderson and demanded he apologize for construction events such as destruction of Hawaiian graves.

"Maybe then we can talk," Medeiros and Kelly wrote.

Oceanside had offered to reduce the number of house slots, eliminate a lodge and double the number of affordable houses.

Yesterday, attorney Kim released a letter to Anderson saying lawsuit plaintiffs Charles Ross Flaherty Jr., Patrick M. Cunningham and Michele Constans Wilkins will keep talking.

"My clients do not require an apology as a precondition of settlement," Kim wrote.

Kim also represents Kelly as an individual, although the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. represents Kelly as an officer of Protect Keopuka Ohana.

Hokulia President John De Fries agreed there is a split but declined to comment further.

A settlement must include all parties, but Kim said he is trying to find "small solutions" first. "We have to build good faith first. I'm trying to find building blocks of trust," he said.

Flaherty, Cunningham and Wilkins, all environmentalists, joined the suit in 2000 after storms washed mud from the project into the sea. They remain in the suit because displacement of agriculture by urban growth is an environmental issue, Kim said.

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