Landowner objects to city eminent domain actions


Associated Press

HONOLULU — A woman in an eminent domain dispute with Honolulu claims the city is bullying her over the how the land is used.

A business on the 20,000-square-foot parcel on the Kamehameha Highway in Hauula, Reynolds Recycling, closed Tuesday after the city erected no trespassing signs.

City officials also told real estate agent Choon James, who bought the property in 2006, that she has no legal authority to be on the property.

James has refused to accept the city’s $521,000 check for the land and has taken the matter to court.

The city is bullying her by ordering the recycling operation business off the property, she said, and by refusing to allow her and her husband to decide how the property can be used before the court hears the matter in March.

“It’s a long time away, and the city is jumping the gun,” James said. “We are still the fee owner.”

A spokesman for Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the city acted legally.

“Since the city has control of the property, it has the responsibility to ensure it is not being used improperly,” said Jesse Broder Van Dyke. “The commercial activity that was occurring was not authorized by the city.”

The city for more than five years has considered the property and a neighboring parcel, owned by a James relative, for a fire station. Caldwell allocated money for construction in his capital budget this year but the City Council deleted it, Broder Van Dyke said. The mayor will seek money for the station again next year, he said.

Bruce Iverson, marketing director for Reynolds Recycling, said he and other company officials were “dumbfounded” when the city sent a letter demanding the company vacate the land. The company has used the property since January.

The city wants to help Reynolds find another site in Hauula, Broder Van Dyke said.

“Choon James has done everything she can” to delay a project supported by both the Fire Department and most of the community, he said.

City officials say the James and her husband agreed to sell the property years ago but reneged, forcing the city to begin eminent domain action.

Choon James said she and her husband only agreed to allow surveyors on the site and never agreed to sell.

 

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