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.”