Bynum zoning case trial date set April 23

LIHU‘E — Kaua‘i County Councilmember Tim Bynum on Tuesday had his zoning violations case moved to 5th Circuit Court.

Defense counsel Daniel Hempey entered not guilty pleas on two misdemeanor charges related to alleged zoning violations at Bynum’s Kapa‘a residence. The charges are for creating a division in a family or ranch-style dwelling, and for using a structure in a manner not permitted on agricultural land.

Judge Kathleen Watanabe set Bynum’s 5th Circuit trial date for April 23. She also scheduled a March 27 hearing to consider two motions filed Tuesday by Hempey to suppress and to dismiss.

First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jake Delaplane is handling the case on behalf of the state. He noted that the deadline is May 8 for meeting the rules for the right to a speedy trial.

Bynum said the agricultural land zoning case was essentially a minor violation, and that he has evidence to show the issue was resolved. Among his concerns, he said, is that the department supposedly reported the resolved issue to the county prosecutor.

County Planning Director Michael Dahilig said in a statement Tuesday that the department’s previous practice was to send copies of civil violations and other zoning compliance notices to the prosecutor’s office.

“Whether to criminally prosecute based on these copied documents was left largely to the discretion of the prosecutor’s office,” Dahilig said. “I am not aware of any instances over the past couple of years where the department has asked that criminal charges be filed by the prosecutor for a particular case.”

The two charges stem from a April 15, 2010, zoning compliance complaint that states Bynum converted a single family home to a multi-family dwelling without proper permits. The construction converted a family room into a dwelling unit.

The notice stated that it was a violation of Sec. 8-19.1, which prohibits construction or development or use without a zoning permit when required. The other charge is related to County Comprehensive Ordinance Sec. 8-7.2, which lists categorical permitted uses and structures on agricultural land.

Bynum said the violation was essentially about placement of electrical cooking appliances in the dwelling being used by his son and an expecting live-in partner. It also had to do with a locked doorway to a shared laundry room and lanai area, he added.

The inspector reportedly did not announce the visit, Bynum said. This is the subject of his motion to suppress any evidence gathered during what he calls a warrantless search on April 13-14, 2011.

After requesting the inspection be scheduled with proper notification and according to regulations, Bynum said he complied with the changes as ordered and has the letter to prove the matter was resolved. If the case goes to trial he expects to produce witnesses to show the construction was completed by a licensed contractor.

Considered code violations in 2010 that could have resulted in a $500 fine, the county has since amended the charter to make it a misdemeanor charge that carries a criminal penalty of up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

The case began in district court before Judge Trudy Senda on Dec. 21. On Feb. 28, the judge granted Hempey’s request to move the case to circuit court for a jury trial demand.

Bynum said this is an election year, and the action has caused duress to him and his family.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or tlaventure@ thegardenisland.com.

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