County files lawsuit against Pflueger and partners

Kaua’i County has filed a civil lawsuit against North Shore landowner James Pflueger, Pflueger Properties and Pila’a 400 for violating a county Special Management Area (SMA) law at a development site in Pila’a.

“Our county ordinances require that those who violate our SMA laws must not only fully mitigate the damage but also pay the appropriate penalties,” Mayor Maryanne Kusaka said yesterday in a prepared statement. “The magnitude of the damage on our Pila’a coastline area makes filing this lawsuit necessary. Pflueger is in the process of correcting the problem.”

The lawsuit, presumably filed in 5th Circuit Court on Kaua’i, names no dollar amount. However, the county will seek all appropriate penalties, Kusaka said.

Maximum fines can reach up to $100,000 or the cost of mitigation and $10,000 per day for each violation, Kusaka said.

“To my knowledge, no other administration has filed an SMA violation lawsuit for improper grading,” Kusaka also said.

Pflueger was not available for comment.

The lawsuit stems from a complaint made by the family of Amy Marvin that unpermitted grubbing on Pflueger’s coastal land created runoff and mud that poured down a hillside in Pila’a Bay and onto their beachfront property last November, causing severe damage.

The Marvins have filed a separate lawsuit for claimed damage to their home.

The county also has contend Pflueger constructed, without government permits, culverts on a hill above the home to divert water away from the structure.

The runoff reportedly damaged a coral reef and marine life, triggering the filing of a lawsuit by EarthJustice Legal Defense Fund contending a violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

However, the sediment has been washed away by ocean currents and the marine life on the reef flourishes, a Pflueger representative has said.

The environmental law firm, which has an office on O’ahu, is representing the Limu Coalition and the Kilauea Neighborhood Association in the complaint.

EarthJustice is considering other legal action against Pflueger as well.

However, Pflueger has agreed to a massive remediation project to correct the problems, an effort applauded by Amy Marvin at a council meeting and council members.

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