Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use

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Court had discretion to permit government-condemnor to withdraw a portion of deposit of estimated just compensation. Three parcels of privately-owned property were condemned for a public park. In the owner’s appeal, the Supreme Court of Hawaii held that the presence or lack of physical unity is not dispositive of whether a condemnee is entitled to severance damages. A deposit of estimated just compensation does not become conditional, and blight of summons damages do not begin to accrue, when a condemning authority objects to a condemnee’s motion to withdraw funds based on the fact that the condemnee’s entitlement to such funds is unclear. The court in an eminent domain proceeding has discretion to permit a governmental entity to withdraw a portion of a deposit of estimated just compensation when the deposit has not been disbursed to the landowner, the government acted in good faith in seeking to adjust the estimate to accurately reflect the value of the property on the date of the summons, and the adjustment will not impair the substantial rights of any party in interest. View "County of Kauai v. Hanalei River Holdings Limited" on Justia Law

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Appellants, The Sierra Club and Senator Clayton Hee, challenged the Land Use Commission’s (LUC) reclassification of 1525 acres of Appellee D.R. Horton-Schuler Homes’ land from the agricultural state land use district to the urban state land use district. The circuit court affirmed the LUC’s findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decision and order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the reclassification did not violate article XI, section 3 of the Hawai’i Constitution or Haw. Rev. Stat. 205-41 through -52; and (2) reliable, probative, and substantial evidence supported the LUC’s finding that the reclassification of the land at issue was consistent with the Hawai’i State Plan, would not substantially impair agricultural production, and was necessary for urban growth. View "Sierra Club v. D.R. Horton-Schuler Homes, LLC" on Justia Law

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The University of Hawai’i at Hilo applied for approval from the Board of Land and Natural Resources (Board) to construct a thirty meter telescope on Mauna Kea on the island of Hawai’i. Despite objections, the Board voted to approve the permit, subject to a number of conditions. The Board further directed that a contested case hearing be conducted and included a condition in the permit that no construction could be undertaken until the contested case hearing was resolved. After the contested case hearing, the hearing officer recommended that the permit be approved. The Board adopted that recommendation. The circuit court affirmed the Board’s action. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the circuit court and the permit issued by the Board, holding that, by voting on the permit before the contested case hearing was held, the Board violated the Hawai’i Constitution’s guarantee of due process. Remanded. View "Hou v. Bd. of Land & Natural Res." on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was a coastal height setback requirement that limits development next to Waikiki’s shoreline. In 2010, Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts LP submitted a land use permit to redevelop an existing hotel building with a twenty-six-story hotel and residential tower. The Director of the Department of Planning and Permitting granted partial approval of Kyo-ya’s variance application to allow the Project to encroach approximately seventy-four percent into the coastal height setback. Several entities (Petitioners) challenged the Director’s conclusion that Kyo-ya’s request for a variance from the coastal height Sstback met the requirements for issuance of a variance as set forth by the city charter. The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) denied Petitioners’ appeal of the Director’s decision. The circuit court affirmed the ZBA order. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Kyo-ya met none of the three requirements for issuance of a variance. View "Surfrider Found. v. Zoning Bd. of Appeal" on Justia Law

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The Planning Director of the County of Hawaii approved the application of Michael Pruglo to consolidate and resubdivide the pre-existing lots on his forty-nine-acre parcel of land. Mark Kellberg, who owned land adjacent to the subject property, objected to the approval. Kellberg brought suit against the Planning Director and the County of Hawaii seeking to have the subdivision declared void. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) ruled that the Planning Director’s approval of Pruglo’s subdivision was invalid because it increased the number of lots. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the ICA, holding that the ICA erred in ruling on the merits of Kellberg’s claims without addressing whether the owners of the lots within the subject property were required to be joined as parties under Haw. R. Civ. P. 19. Because the lot owners were necessary parties under Rule 19(a), the Court remanded the case to the circuit court with instructions to order the joinder of the lot owners under Rule 19. View "Kellberg v. Yuen" on Justia Law

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In 1989, land in Waikoloa on Hawai’i Island was reclassified from agricultural to urban to allow for the development of a residential community. The reclassification was made subject certain conditions. The land changed hands several time over the years. In 2009, the landowner, Bridge Aina Le’a, LLC (Bridge), informed the Land Use Commission (LUC) that it intended to assign its interest in the land to DW Aina Le’a Development, LLC (DW). DW subsequently invested approximately $20 million in developing the site. Nevertheless, the LUC voted to revert the land to its former agricultural land use classification on the basis that Bridge and its predecessors in interest had failed to perform according to the conditions imposed. Bridge and DW each sought judicial review of the LUC’s decision and order. The circuit court reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated the judgment in part, holding that the circuit court (1) correctly concluded that the LUC erred in reverting the property without complying with the requirements of Haw. Rev. Stat. 205-4; and (2) erred in concluding that Bridge’s and DW’s procedural and substantive due process rights and equal protection rights were violated. View "DW Aina Le'a Dev., LLC v. Bridge Aina Le'a, LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2012, the Land Use Commission (LUC) granted Horton-Schuler Homes LLC’s petition to reclassify certain lands in ‘Ewa District, O’ahu from agricultural to urban use subject to certain conditions. The Sierra Club filed a notice of appeal with the circuit court requesting judicial review of the decision, and Friends of Makakilo (FOM), a non-profit corporation, filed a notice of cross-appeal. FOM did not file its cross-appeal within thirty days after service of the certified copy of LUC’s final decision and order as required by Haw. Rev. Stat. 91-14(b). The circuit court held that FOM’s cross-appeal was not allowed by law because aggrieved parties have no right to cross-appeal and that FOM’s cross-appeal was untimely. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s dismissal of FOM’s cross-appeal as untimely, holding that an “aggrieved person” seeking judicial review of an administrative decision under the Hawai’i APA must institute review proceedings within thirty days after service of the final decision and order. View "Friends of Makakilo v. D.R. Horton-Schulder Homes, LLC" on Justia Law

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Kauai Springs, Inc., a water bottling and distribution company, filed an application for three zoning permits related to the continued operation of its water bottling facility on land located in Koloa, Kauai. The Planning Commission of the County of Kauai denied the permits, notified Kauai Springs that continued operation on the property constituted a land use violation, and ordered Kauai Springs to shut down its operations on the property. The circuit court reversed in part and vacated in part the Commissioner’s decision and order and ordered that all three permits be issued. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated the circuit court’s final judgment and remanded to the Commission for consideration of whether Kauai Springs could meet the requirements for the permits. The Supreme Court affirmed to the extent the ICA vacated the circuit court’s final judgment, holding that the Commission’s findings of fact were not erroneous, its conclusions of law were correct, and its decision to deny the permits was not arbitrary and capricious, but clarity and completeness in its decision were lacking. Remanded to the Commission to clarify its findings of fact and conclusions of law. View "Kauai Springs, Inc. v. Planning Comm’n" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was a forty-nine acre parcel of land. After the County of Hawai’i and the County Planning Director (collectively, County Defendants) gave the subject property’s owners approval to subdivide the property, Plaintiff, an adjacent land owner, filed an action challenging the subdivision approval. The circuit court ultimately granted summary judgment on all counts for the County Defendants, concluding that no genuine issue of material fact existed in this case. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated the circuit court’s judgment and remanded for an order dismissing the case, concluding that Appellant failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, and therefore, the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to act on the complaint. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment and remanded to the ICA for consideration of the remaining issues raised by Plaintiff in his appeal, holding that Appellant did not fail to exhaust administrative remedies. View "Kellberg v. Yuen" on Justia Law

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In April 2010, the State Senate expressly rejected Duane Kanuha's nomination for a second term as a commissioner on the State Land Use Commission (LUC). Following the Senate's rejection, Kanuha continued to serve on the board and to participate in the LUC's consideration of a development project involving the reclassification of agricultural land for urban use. Sierra Club filed an action to disqualify Kanuha from serving on the LUC and to invalidate the actions Kanuha had taken with regard to the development project. The LUC denied the action. That same day, LUC voted to approve the development project. Without Kanuha's vote, the LUC lacked the requisite number of votes to approve the reclassification. The circuit court reversed the LUC's decision and order. The ICA reversed, determining that Kanuha continued to serve as a valid holdover member of the LUC after the Senate's rejection of his nomination for a second term. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Kanuha was not a valid holdover when he voted on the reclassification; (2) Kanuha did not qualify as a de facto member of the LUC; and (3) therefore, Kanuha's actions taken with respect to the reclassification petition were invalid. View "Sierra Club v. Castle & Cooke Homes Haw., Inc. " on Justia Law