Land developer sues county

LIHUE — A North Shore property owner is suing the Kauai County Planning Commission over its refusal to allow him to develop 134 acres of agricultural land in Moloa‘a.

According to a lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court, Jeffrey Lindner, who co-owns the property through his corporation, Moloaa Farms LLC, has operated properties in the area for over twenty years for agricultural purposes like raising and feeding livestock.

“Lindner and Moloaa Farms, LLC have likely done more than anyone else to support the development of local farming in Moloaa over the last twenty years,” the lawsuit says. “Despite this, the county has portrayed Mr. Lindner as a wealthy developer and land speculator, not a real farmer.”

The suit alleges the planning commission has denied Lindner his “basic development rights,” while allowing the “real farmers” he helped to “massively develop their prime agricultural land with new housing and little basic infrastructure.”

Kauai County Planning Director Kaaina Hull declined to give details about the pending litigation described the lawsuit’s claims as “patently false” in a written statement Thursday and said planning department officials “look forward to defending the county’s laws before the federal judge.”

According to the lawsuit, the land that Lindner is requesting permission to develop was initially purchased back in 1997, as part of a 757-acre lot intended to be turned into agricultural park. The land was subdivided into separate lots, one of which Lindner bought.

Lindner said his initial request for permission to build residential farm dwellings on the land was denied by the planning commission on the grounds that he didn’t have permission from the owners of the other subdivided lots.

But according to Lindner, that is not a feasible option because the connected lots have been further subdivided and are collectively owned by some 60-plus separate entities. He also argues that numerous buildings were constructed on the other lot without his approval.

“It’s basically a question of due process,” he said. “They’re treating us differently than they treated the other lot.”

Lindner said the planning commission is essentially basing its decision to deny him the ability to build homes on the land as part of a political agenda.

“The county does not want agricultural land to be developed,” he said, describing his view that county officials put up one road block after another in order to stop him from building on the property and, in effect, “circumvented their own subdivision laws.”

  1. KauaiFarmMan January 22, 2020 3:03 am Reply

    I don’t want to defend a billionaire but it’s about time someone stands up to the corrupt county building department. The county clearly makes it impossible for some to develop or build and makes it easy for others. This is no secret. Everyone knows that the county officials are discriminatory and racist. I support not developing Kauai more but you can’t just pick and choose who gets to build what . It’s based on law. This will set the stage for developers to stop allowing the county to unfairly handout or deny permits. Kauai’s government, courts and police clearly have a history of corruption, favoritism, and discrimination of outsiders. Few could honestly deny this. For better or worse, we all know it’s true.

  2. Jake January 22, 2020 7:55 am Reply

    The obvious other question….What about all the other buildings on the land of the “60 entities”?? I guess the county is too lazy, once again, to enforce existing structures that were illegally built.

    But hey, if you apply the correct way, you will be denied.

  3. RG DeSoto January 22, 2020 8:24 am Reply

    Hopefully, Lindner’s lawsuit will be successful against the obstructionist at the planning dept & county bureaucracy. The planning dept’s position is based on the delusion that farming is a widely popular choice for people. This is simply an anti-development agenda that cares not a whit about property rights….or affordable housing for that matter.
    RG DeSoto

  4. I saw a Vampire once January 22, 2020 9:13 am Reply

    So he already lost the land. When it was bought back in 1997. How does he intend to fight this in court if he lost the land? Does he have lots of money?

  5. Sue January 22, 2020 9:38 am Reply

    Of course “the county doesn’t want agricultural land to be developed”, get a clue Lindner!

    Most people on this island don’t want ag land to be developed. Don’t you have enough money already?

    When is enough, enough? Greedy much?

  6. therealhawaiian January 22, 2020 11:03 am Reply

    Ag land should only be developed if it is clearly demonstrated that it is in the greater good of the whole Island, doesn’t in any way affect the views and beauty that make Kauai what it is, or, if there is a specific purpose that is demonstrated showing there is no effect on the land continuing to be able to grow plants, food, and fauna. Thank you County!

  7. SC January 23, 2020 9:50 am Reply

    Don’t approve the building of “residential farm dwellings”. Protect the land…has anyone heard of Life on Land UN Global Goal #15? There is an Aloha+ Challenge. Protect and preserve ecosystems. Make your money from renting high priced housing elsewhere.

  8. makesense June 20, 2020 12:09 am Reply

    own the land, get to live in on it. whats the problem? support local agriculture and island farmers… so you say you do yet you want growers to pay rent …to someone else … and try to make a living farming for the community? or rather they buy and take another house of the market, pressuring housing…instead of living where ? on their farm? why? live where you work = No commute so now youre helping traffic small kine too. build as per normal code, correctly, and collect no rent from the worker housing structures. what’s the problem? you want sustainability and yet you dont want people living on the land they farm? I dont get the counter argument… at all. Country Council… open your mind. If we farm, we need to be able to live on the farm. Nonsense otherwise.

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