Court sides with county on permit issue

LIHUE – A circuit court judge Tuesday ruled in favor of the County of Kauai and the Planning Commission in response to the county’s lawsuit against a Hanalei resident’s unpermitted boatyard operation. 

Judge Kathleen Watanabe granted in part the county’s motion for summary judgment and concluded that no commercial activities or development were allowed at the Hanalei boatyard without the proper permits.

Watanabe’s ruling comes on the heels of the Hawaii Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to deny Michael Sheehan’s application for review of the Intermediate Court of Appeals’ Oct. 17 memorandum opinion, which upheld the 5th Circuit Court’s and Planning Commission’s decisions to revoke Sheehan’s permits in 2011.

Kauai County Attorney Mauna Kea Higuera-Trask said he would withhold statements on the case until he had a chance to review the court order and discuss it with special council. The county retained special council from the firm McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon.

Sheehan’s attorney, Richard Wilson, argued that due process was denied when the county Planning Commission did not hold meetings or hearings to make a determination that alleged commercial activities were in violation of the Class II master permit that was never revoked.

“The court’s decision therefore comes as no surprise to Mr. Sheehan,” Wilson said. “However, the county ignores the fact that he has a valid Class II permit which in 1986 allowed the then operating, entire commercial tour boat industry to relocate to his river-side property.”

Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. expressed relief about the court decisions.

“We can now put this matter behind us and move forward with planning for the expansion of Black Pot Beach Park,” Carvalho said in a statement. “The community has already provided some input on plans for the park, and we will continue to work with our residents and businesses in the creation of a recreational area that everyone can enjoy.”

Wilson argued that the county has fought against commercial boating at Hanalei, and in their effort told the public that it was condemning Sheehan’s property solely for park expansion.

“Basically, the only recourse at this point is federal court,” Wilson said of the next step. “The long and short of it is, we will be back in federal court.”

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