Updated 

Several surrounding property owners added to lien request against Ho Honua


The former general contractor for a bioenergy plant under construction in Pepeekeo expanded its $35 million lien request against the power plant’s developer to include several surrounding property owners.

Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company’s lien application against Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC and Maukaloa Farms LLC, owner of the 25-acre property on the former Hilo Coast Processing Co. site, was amended March 3 to include Minh Q. Voss-Leonetti, Nicola S. Leonetti, James M. Sullivan, Yun Suk Chang, He Suk Lee, Kim C.S. Chang, Miran Kim, Continental Pacific LLC, Island Bioenergy LLC and Pepeekeo Banana LLC.

Hilo attorney Al Konishi, who represents Kim C.S. Chang, said prior to a Thursday hearing Hu Honua had easement rights to the properties added to the lien filing and Hawaiian Dredging modified a well on his client’s property.

Hawaiian Dredging is claiming it did more than $35 million in unpaid construction work on the power plant which, if completed, would burn wood chips to generate 21.5 megawatts of electricity.

Blake Bushnell, attorney for Hu Honua and Island Bioenergy, told Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura at Thursday’s hearing there are or would be motions filed “to dismiss in respect with some of these other (properties) they’re (Hawaiian Dredging) seeking to lien for $35 million.”

“Right now, Hawaiian Dredging’s saying we’re liening $35 million seven times on seven different properties by trying to put a blanket lien application together,” he said. “We would ask that the court order Hawaiian Dredging to file separate lien applications on each of these (properties), specifically describing the nature of the work they performed on each one of those (properties) so that we understand how much they’re seeking to attach to each (property).

“That way, the owners, in fairness to the owners — who will have no contact with Hawaiian Dredging — if they want to bond these liens off, or if Hu Honua wants to bond these liens off, they will have an opportunity to do so.

“You can’t put a $35 million lien on a property that you did $50,000 of grading work on. … I was requesting that they dismiss the lien application and file separate lien applications on each of these (properties).”

Keith Yamada, one of two attorneys representing Hawaiian Dredging, told the judge he would “certainly attempt to” separate the lien applications.

“Unfortunately, we were not part and party of the discussions between Hu Honua and these other people,” he said. “They were the ones who made these agreements with the other people without telling us to keep track of it separately. … I’d ask that the court not order it, and I’ll make a representation that we’ll try to do that.”

Voss-Leonetti, who represented herself at the hearing, told the judge she “never went into a contract with Hawaiian Dredging.”

“I never knew what they did on my land. … So please, your Honor, dismiss my (case),” she said.

Nakamura replied he couldn’t dismiss her from the lien during Thursday’s hearing.

“If you think you shouldn’t be a party to this action, maybe you should get yourself a lawyer and file a motion,” the judge told Voss-Leonetti.

Nakamura set a probable cause hearing for 9 a.m. July 30.

He also set probable cause hearings for Tennessee-based designer ESI’s $11 million lien request against Hu Honua for 9 a.m. July 23, and for the $53,286 claim by General Supply and Services, dba Gexpro, for 9 a.m. July 29.

In the meantime, two more lien applications were filed Tuesday in Hilo Circuit Court naming Hu Honua as a defendant, bringing the number of active lien applications to nine.

One of the additional lien applications is by Unitek Insulation LLC of Honolulu, claiming almost $104,800 in unpaid bills by Hu Honua.

The other is by Smith-Koch Inc. of Pennsylvania, a subcontractor of ESI, claiming an outstanding debt of $49,522.

Hearings on both lien applications are set for 9:30 a.m. April 9 before Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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