Despite court ruling, developer plans to continue working on Paniolo Drive


By ERIN MILLER

Stephens Media

A state appellate court ruling this week that a Waikoloa developer can’t be required to extend Paniolo Drive doesn’t mean that developer won’t be building the road, a county housing official said Friday.

The Intermediate Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a 3rd Circuit Court decision that Waikoloa Heights Land Investors couldn’t be required to construct the West Hawaii road extension based on a 1990 agreement. That agreement set a 1993 deadline for the 1-mile extension to be built.

But county Housing and Community Development Administrator Stephen Arnett said Waikoloa Heights will be building the road under a planned unit development agreement with Hawaii County.

“They didn’t get off the hook,” Arnett said.

The developer has recently redrawn plans and affirmed its commitment to the road, he added.

Last November, Arnett said it would be Hawaii County fronting the $2.5 million to build the extension, which will eventually become the main entrance to the county’s Kamakoa Nui workforce housing project in Waikoloa. Arnett made those comments at a soft opening for the embattled affordable housing project.

Waikoloa Development Co. sued Waikoloa Heights in 2006, asking Waikoloa Heights to build the Paniolo Avenue extension. Waikoloa Heights officials argued they didn’t have to build the road, because so much time

had passed — 13 years — since the construction deadline. Waikoloa Heights had entered the agreement with Transcontinental Development Co.; Waikoloa Development Co. took on Transcontinental Development’s obligations in 1990, according to the appellate court ruling.

Waikoloa Development Co. argued the time frame allowed by the statute of limitations could not begin until Hawaii County required the road to be built. The county didn’t approve the amended planned unit development until 2006.

The 3rd Circuit Court ruled in 2008 that the statute of limitations to enforce the original agreement had expired and Waikoloa Development Co. could not force Waikoloa Heights to build the road.

A message left with a Waikoloa Heights attorney Friday seeking comment on Waikoloa Heights’ intentions to build the road was not returned.

Former Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann said he asked county officials several times to address the situation, especially as the county began construction on the Kamakoa Nui project. The workforce housing project is located north of Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School, past a residential development. Several model homes are already in place and the first phase of affordable homes is set to be available later this year. The county also built a park within Kamakoa Nui.

“To access either of those places, you have to go through Paniolo Estates, just past the school,” Hoffmann said.

Hoffmann said he raised the issue several times during his four terms on the county council. The passing around of the responsibility to build the road, eventually leading to the developer being excused from conditions to which the developer agreed, isn’t unprecedented in Hawaii County, he added.

Mayor Billy Kenoi also said the county would build the road, then didn’t, Hoffmann said.

“The county is sitting on their thumbs,” he said. “They know they have to do this. It is a safety issue. They just won’t spend the money.”

Email Erin Miller at emiller@westhawaiitoday.com

 

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