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DHHL OKs plan to divide property

May 11, 2014 - 5:56am

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is recommending approval of its first subdivision application on the Big Island since it lifted a moratorium for agriculture land last year.

The Hawaiian Homes Commission approved a moratorium for agricultural subdivisions in December 1999 until a plan could be developed for the properties. The commission lifted it in January 2013 when new subdivision rules were adopted.

The 125-acre homestead parcel near Waimea is proposed to be broken up into three lots, each roughly 40 acres in size.

Puni Chee, DHHL spokesman, said the application is being considered a “test case” on how to handle subdivision proposals and address issues that might arise.

The ranch land, leased to Flora Solomon, the mother of state Sen. Malama Solomon, is the only subdivision application that has been submitted, he said.

Ten other lessees on the island are considering subdividing their lots, Chee said. Subdividing DHHL land allows lessees to grant portions of the property to their ohana.

Malama Solomon, who lives on the property to care for her mother, said she will receive one of the lots.

Subdividing the land, if approved by Hawaii County, would also put the lessee in compliance with DHHL rules that allow up to one residence and a caretaker cottage per lot, according to Chee. County records list four dwellings on the property. Chee said the department won’t be issuing penalties.

“I think this is one of those situations where Ms. Flora Solomon is looking to try to bring everything into compliance,” he said.

Malama Solomon said construction of the dwellings was supposed to coincide with subdividing the property years ago.

When the moratorium was put into effect, she said her parents had already received county building permits. Malama Solomon said DHHL told them it was OK to proceed with construction in anticipation the moratorium would be lifted.

“We’re not hiding anything,” she said.

According to county records, building permits were approved in August 1998, December 1999, February 2000 and August 2003. The last one appears to be for a commercial kitchen, said Noelani Whittington, county Public Works spokeswoman. The structures were completed between 1999 and 2007.

Flora Solomon received the 99-year land lease in 1994, the senator said.

The family uses it for ranching, said Malama Solomon, who has a month-to-month ranching lease on 105 acres adjacent to her mother’s homestead.

The subdivision application includes a request for a water variance. The property is served by county water, but the line, by rules, can only serve one lot, county Planning Director Duane Kanuha said.

Chee said DHHL might find water issues with other subdivision proposals.

“We have been able to identify two areas that need to be addressed,” he said. “One is water waivers; the other would be recordation with the Bureau of Conveyances. We’ll probably find other streamline issues as we move forward.”

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.