Burial hearing set

A hearing that could put a halt to controversial construction on a Wainiha property containing some 30 burials is scheduled for Aug. 12 after a judge denied protesters’’ request for a temporary restraining order Monday.

Attorney Alan Murakami of the Honolulu-based Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation said yesterday that his client, Jeff Chandler, and five co-defendants hope to convince 5th Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe to grant a temporary injunction, stopping further construction until the full civil suit is adjudicated.

In that lawsuit, plaintiff and landowner Joseph Brescia is seeking unspecified damages from protester defendants Chandler, Ka‘iulani Edens-Huff, Puanani Rogers, Dayne Gonsalves, Louise Listman and Hale Mawae, according to electronic court records.

The original complaint was filed by Brescia’s O‘ahu-based attorney, Philip J. Leas, on June 5, two days after some 40 protesters rallied on the adjacent beach to pray for Hawaiian ancestors.

The suit seeks temporary restraining orders and injunctions against the six defendants to keep them off of the Wainiha subdivision where Brescia has been trying to build a home for some seven years despite a litany of environmental, legal and community challenges.

On June 24, Kaua‘i Police Chief Darryl Perry halted groundbreaking at the 11th hour, saying construction could violate a law regarding desecration of burial sites.

After seeking clarification from the county attorney and the state attorney general, Perry said two weeks later that Brescia had not broken any law, and that construction could commence.

On July 18, the NHLC filed a counterclaim on behalf of Chandler, a native Hawaiian who disagrees with a State Historic Preservation Division burial plan that allows building above seven of the gravesites, or ‘iwi, as long as none of the bones are physically disrupted, according to Murakami.

The temporary restraining order that the NHLC began pushing for in earnest on Friday was denied Monday, meaning the court refused to intervene, at least for now.

Watanabe could, however, change her mind between now and the injunction hearing, which will feature arguments and evidence from both parties.

Phone messages left for Brescia and Leas seeking comment were not returned as of press time. Local attorney Walton Hong, who represents Brescia in other matters, confirmed that he is not handling the civil suit.

• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or via e-mail at mlevine@kauaipubco.com


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