Saturday, October 25, 2014

BY ERIN MILLER | WEST HAWAII TODAY

State and federal court cases regarding the future of the Mamalahoa bypass were settled late Tuesday, but county officials and attorneys remained mum on the details.

"There is a settlement placed on record," Deputy Corporation Counsel Joseph Kamelamela said. "Typically, we don't release (details) until we get the final terms."

That will happen within the next 45 days, he added.

The cases involved Hawaii County, 1250 Oceanside Partners, The Club at Hokulia, the Hokulia Community Association and American Motorists Insurance Co. and centered on improvement bonds for the bypass road and construction on Halekii Street. The county and others filed suit against the developers in April 2010 and attempted to call the bonds securing the bypass and some of the other improvement projects.

"Yesterday's preliminary settlement is legally binding and thus provides the platform upon which the Definitive Agreements will be co-authored by the appropriate entities," Hokulia CEO John De Fries said in a written statement. "There is an old saying that the 'devil is in the details' -- but I can also assure all who are concerned, that 'the angels are in the details, too.'"

De Fries said additional comments would not be appropriate until definitive agreements are filed with the courts.

Twelve business entities were involved in negotiating and approving the settlement, De Fries said.

"This was a complex process and a major achievement made possible by the strong judicial leadership and settlement mediation expertise of 3rd Circuit Court Judge (Ronald) Ibarra and Federal Magistrate, Judge (Kevin) Chang," he added.

Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida backed up Kamelamela's decision not to discuss the settlement's terms, saying to do so would be "premature."

A message left for Mayor Billy Kenoi was not returned.

Kamelamela said the settlement agreement was "a fair, reasonable and practical resolution."

Attorneys for 1250 Oceanside, The Club at Hokulia and the Hokulia Community Association merely noted their clients had agreed to the settlement and declined further comment.

Margery Bronster, an attorney representing the bond company, was in trial Wednesday and unavailable for comment.

AMICO's attorneys had argued they should not be responsible for paying the $25 million bond to build the remainder of the 5.5-mile bypass. Developers had agreed to build the bypass, from Alii Drive in Keauhou to Napoopoo Road in South Kona, in exchange for the right to build the 730-lot subdivision. The bypass is expected to cost roughly $34.1 million, up from the estimated price tag of $21.7 million included in the 1997 agreements.

"The next step would be to build the bypass, to complete it, actually," Kamelamela said.

Alexander Smith, who owns the last parcel of land on the proposed bypass route said he hasn't been in touch with the county recently, although that was more because of his schedule. He said he plans to start putting together documents -- land value and other information -- after the first of the year.

"Every year, there's some new stuff that comes up," Smith said. "I think that's where we are."

Told about the settlement agreement, Smith seemed pleased.

"Thank God," he said. "I don't want to cause trouble. We had an agreement before. I guess with the economic times, this just unraveled."

emiller@westhawaiitoday.com

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