Big Isle mayor wants to kill land purchase
  • Saturday, November 17, 2018
  • 75°

Hawaii News

Big Isle mayor wants to kill land purchase

  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim stands inside the Civil Defense’s Emergency Management Center in Hilo.

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KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii >> Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim is hoping the county will be able to back out of an ongoing land purchase that was started before the property was made worthless by lava inundation.

The county was looking to purchase a $2.7 million Vacationland parcel owned by a politically connected family to provide public access to the ocean, Kim said. The 284-acre property would have provided an open-space buffer between development in Vacationland and the Waiopae tide pools before lava consumed the natural feature last month, West Hawaii Today reported.

Now there’s 300 to 400 yards of lava between the land and the ocean. By law, the newly formed land belongs to the state.

The Hawaii County Council authorized the purchase in 2013, before Kim was mayor. Kim owns property adjacent to the parcel but lost his vacation home to lava in early June.

The county already signed a contract making the purchase contingent on a state conservation grant, a county attorney said.

“The whole purpose of purchasing, it is gone,” Kim said Thursday. “I’m not interested in paying good money for that.”

He hopes the state will come to the same conclusion and agree to abandon the purchase.

As of Monday, the state had not told the county to proceed with the purchase, since the Legacy Land grant hadn’t been finalized, said Hamana Ventura, county property manager.

“Once we get clarification and a decision from Legacy Lands, then the county will be coming up with a game plan,” Ventura said.

Documents filed with the state show the land is owned by Kahi Inc., which is managed by retired judge Glenn Hara, his wife, Janet, and Gregory Abe.

Glenn Hara inherited the land from his father, the late Stanley I. Hara, who worked as a developer and also served in the Hawaii Territorial Legislature and the state Senate. The land was owned in partnership with others, including state Supreme Court Associate Justice Kazu­hisa Abe.

Suzanne Case, chairwoman of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, will work with the county on how to handle the purchase moving forward, spokesman Dan Dennison said Thursday.

“It’s premature to say at this point,” he said.

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