Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Land Use Cases to Watch: Hawaii Supreme Court

Kilakila `O Haleakala v. Board of Land and Natural Resources, was heard by the Hawaii Supreme Court on Thursday, April 2, 2015.  This appeal arises from BLNR’s granting of a conservation district use permit (“CDUP”) to the University of Hawaii (“UH”) on December 1, 2010.  The CDUP allows the construction of the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (“ATST”) project atop the summit of Haleakala on Maui. 

Kilakila `O Haleakala and others challenge the CDUP on several grounds.  In response, UH and BLNR argue that its findings (1) were not "clearly erroneous" (the standard of judicial review), and (2) complied with the CDUP criteria the board must consider.  UH and BLNR ask the court to affirm the ICA and circuit court’s decisions upholding the CDUP.

Questions from the court primarily related to (1) connection between impacts and proposed mitigation to address those impacts, (2) potential impact of political pressure on due process, and (3) measuring cumulative impacts.

Surfrider Foundation v. Zoning Board of Appeals, City & County of Honolulu, was heard by the Hawaii Supreme Court on Thursday, February 19, 2015.  This appeal arises from the City’s granting of a zoning variance from Revised Ordinances of Honolulu (“ROH”) § 21-9.80-4(g)(2), in 2010. 

ROH § 21-9.80-4(g)(2), provides  that “no structure shall be permitted” within 100 feet of the certified shoreline and that “[b]eyond the 100-foot line there shall be a building height setback of 1:1 (45 degrees) measured from the certified shoreline.”  The City variance allows the structure to be taller and closer to the certified shoreline based on its assessment of variance factors under the City Charter.

Sierra Club v. Castle and Cooke Homes Hawaii, will be heard by the Hawaii Supreme Court on Thursday, May 21, 2015.  This appeal arises from the State Land Use Commission’s (“LUC”) granting of a land use district boundary amendment to Castle and Cooke that would allow the Koa Ridge Makai and Waiawa commercial/residential developments.  Sierra Club argues that the reclassification violated Article XI, Section 3 of the Hawaii State Constitution, which provides that the “State shall conserve and protect agricultural lands,” and that “[t]he legislature shall provide standards and criteria,” to implement this provision.  They also argue that the Commission violated Hawaii Revised Statutes §§ 205-41 through -52, which implements said constitutional provision.

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