(BIVN) – The Hawaii County Council Finance Committee deferred a resolution on Monday that would have initiated eminent domain proceedings to take lands from Kamehameha Schools for a wastewater project in Pahala.
Resolution 412-17 would have authorized county attorneys to begin the process of acquiring the 42.5 acres of private property in order to construct a wastewater treatment plant in in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency regulations. The EPA requires the elimination of large capacity gang cesspools, like those in Pahala.
The councilmembers paused after hearing the testimony of Alapaki Nahale-a, the Senior Director of Regional Strategies on Hawaii Island for Kamehameha Schools.
Nahale-a requested the vote be deferred “until such time we are able to obtain more information from the County on this action including the reasons for the selection of this property, which is currently leased to a farmer who is growing an orchard of macadamia nut trees.”
“If this action goes through, a viable agricultural operation will be displaced and valuable aina that currently provides financial support to educational programs will be lost forever,” Nahale-a said.
Nahale-a noted that Kamehameha Schools and the County are aligned on many issues, including the desire to protect the environment, however he stated the last conversation regarding the lands was back in July when an appraiser called for information. “The only notice we received about this resolution was Friday when a reporter called us seeking comment,” Nahale-a said.
Bill Kucharski, the county director of environmental management, apologized for the apparent miscommunication. The County and Kamehameha Schools officials said they will get together to talk story before taking the next step. The county is on an EPA-mandated timeline to get the project going soon.