Eminent domain to be used in condo acquisition: Maui News, Wailuku HI, 8/4/07

The Maui County Council on Friday approved actions to acquire the Montana Beach condominium site with resolutions to initiate eminent domain proceedings and to authorize special counsel to assist in the acquisition.

The county previously acquired two units in the three-lot condominium project planned for a 5.5-acre site along the shoreline next to Baldwin Beach Park. The site formerly was used for a limekiln, roasting sand to provide a soil amendment for the sugar plantations.

The condominium project had been granted exemptions from county special management area permit requirements for three residential units in late 2000. When construction began, a community protest erupted, followed by then-Planning Director John Min rescinding the exemptions in 2001.

A flurry of lawsuits by the affected condominium owners against the county ensued, with the county in 2005 settling with two of the buyers to acquire their interests in the condominium. Those settlements cost $6.5 million.

The remaining unit owner, Asghar Sadri, has declined to sell his interest and has filed multiple lawsuits against the county alleging civil rights violations and claiming damages because he has been blocked from building his house for the past six years.

A resolution to proceed with eminent domain was approved on second reading.

The action will require the county to place sufficient funds in escrow to cover the estimated cost of the property. The second resolution approved by the council Friday authorizes up to $250,000 for a private attorney specializing in property litigation to assist in the proceedings.

Maui News, Wailuku HI: http://www.mauinews.com