LUC: Lepe‘uli fence inside conservation district

LIHU‘E — The state Land Use Commission on Monday added another chapter to a lengthy battle over a lateral trail — which goes through private property — to Lepe‘uli, commonly known as Larsen’s Beach.

“For your information the Agricultural/Conservation District boundary follows an average setback of 300 feet from the high water mark,” LUC Executive Officer Orlando Davidson said Monday in a letter responding to Sierra Club’s request for a conservation district boundary interpretation for Larsen’s Beach.

If Davidson’s opinion is true, a fence blocking off the lateral access to Larsen’s Beach was erected inside the conservation district, without such a permit.

“Our client is disturbed that this boundary determination was made with no notice to the landowner, without a site visit and seemingly with no information about the property,” attorney Don Wilson wrote Wednesday in a letter addressed to Davidson, adding that LUC’s opinion was based solely on its default boundary interpretation of 300 feet from the shoreline.

Wilson added that in some areas of the property, the Conservation District lines were set at 500 feet from the high water mark.

Paradise Ranch owner Bruce Laymon originally had a conservation district use permit to fence off the property he leases from Waioli Corporation. But on Jan. 10, before the state Board of Land and Natural Resources could make a decision on a contested case request, Laymon surrendered the permit.

“No fencing will be installed on, upon or within the conservation district,” attorney Lorna Nishimitsu said in a Jan. 10 letter addressed to William Aila, chair of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

On May 21 Laymon built the fence inside state agricultural land, using a county small management area permit.

Beachgoers can still access Larsen’s through a county easement on the south end of the beach, but some residents have challenged Laymon’s decision, saying the lateral access is the historical ala loa, an ancient trail that once supposedly wrapped around the island’s coastline.

On May 25, county planner Les Milnes inspected the site, and wrote on his report that the fence was installed outside the conservation district line, which had been delineated on Jan. 20 by licensed land surveyor Allan Hiranaka.

But the Monday LUC letter, with a different boundary interpretation, places the conservation district line at least 75 feet inland from the fence.

“The issuance of this boundary interpretation without notice to or consultation with the landowner will be considered promptly by the Waioli Corporation Board of Trustees,” said Wilson in the letter, asking LUC, the County of Kaua‘i and DLNR to take no further action until the board’s decision.

DLNR and Na Ala Hele

Na Ala Hele’s Doris Rowland on Sept. 9, 2009, said in a letter to DLNR that, based on map data on file at the State Survey Office, Na Ala Hele’s opinion was that “there may be a historical trail that once traversed the subject property. However, the government did not make a claim for any trails through the subject parcel at the time the land was registered in the Land Court system in 1943. Therefore Na Ala Hele is unable to claim an interest for public pedestrian access through the subject parcel.”

Waioli and Paradise Ranch often cited Rowland’s memorandum as proof as the lateral trail not being the historical ala loa.

But on June 27, DLNR Chair William Aila sent a letter to interim county planning director Michael Dahilig, stating that Rowland’s memorandum does not represent DLNR’s opinion as to ownership of trails and roads over registered land. Also, the memorandum does not “accurately reflect” the Department of the Attorney General’s analysis of applicable law.

“DLNR and Na Ala Hele have not approved the current location of the fence as apparently required by the permit,” Aila said in the letter.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or lazambuja@ thegardenisland.com.

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