Heavy fines haven’t stopped ‘flagrant violators’ from flouting environmental laws

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — City officials say a Windward Oahu construction company is flouting zoning and environmental laws.

But despite steep fines, the city was unable to stop the company.

“This is a blatant offender,” said Dawn Takeuchi Apuna, deputy director of the city’s planning and permitting department. “It’s extreme in the sense that we’re not dealing with the type of person who completely ignores all of our violation shows.”

The 13-acre property at 54-406 Kamehameha Highway is the base yard for Iosepa Electric and General Contracting. But it is also a protected wetland that is zoned for agricultural and non-commercial purposes.

Neighbors blame illegal grading and stockpiling on the property for flooding homes across the highway during heavy rains last year.

“This illegal landfill is a man-made disaster for the residents of our community and for our aina,” said Dotty Kelly-Paddock, a member of the Koolauloa Ward Council.

The city imposed more than $300,000 in fines on the owner, put liens on the property and even dispatched police to serve stop-work orders, to no avail.

“As soon as the HPD stops work and leaves, I understand that the owner continues to do the same work which is in violation of our laws,” Takeuchi Apuna said.

Councilor Esther Kiaaina added: ‘I am in shock…at the inability to hold the landowner in compliance,’ she said.

City council member Heidi Tsuneyoshi introduced a resolution calling for more enforcement action against the landlord. The council’s zoning and planning committee passed the resolution last week.

“How this individual can think he can continue to do these things in full view of the community and being from the community makes me think anyone would be so cheeky,” Tsuneyoshi said.

But the owner blames the city for the mess. He said years ago the city built storm sewers upstream of his property, which changed the flow of water during heavy rains.

Owner Hoapate Taufa also told Hawaii News Now on Tuesday that he intended to comply, but said he was being singled out by the city, which rescinded his permit application.

The city, meanwhile, is asking for a judicial inquiry. He also wants the authority to be able to seize owners who ignore the rules.

“This is an example of why we need a little more teeth in the law so that we can prosecute these people who are totally ignoring us – and flipping the bird on us – as we try to enforce the law. law,” said Dean Uchida. , the director of the DPP.

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