Koa Ridge: HAWSCT Invalidates Rezoning Because Holdover Commissioner Voted

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Robert Thomas
Robert Thomas

In Sierra Club v. Castle & Cooke Homes Hawaii, Inc., No. SCWC-0000625 (Dec. 23, 2013), by a 4-1 majority, the Hawaii Supreme Court concluded that a Land Use Commission commissioner, who had not been approved by the Hawaii Senate for a second term, was neither a statutory “holdover” member, nor a de facto commissioner, and thus could not cast the decisive and sixth vote in a reclassification of land. The court invalidated the reclassification.

The court concluded that the commissioner did not qualify as a valid holdover under Haw. Rev. Stat. § 26-34, and did not qualify as a de facto commissioner. This is the “Koa Ridge” case that we’ve been following, and as we predicted here, it’s never wise to bet against the plaintiff in this case when they take a case to the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Our favorite part of the opinion is note 9 on page 10: Quo Warranto rules!

Chief Justice Recktenwald dissented and concurred, arguing that the commissioner fit within the language of the statute.

The Court of Appeals’ opinion is posted here.

The title of this post called this a “rezoning,” but since this was the State Land Use Commission considering a boundary amendment/land reclassification and not county zoning, technically speaking it wasn’t a “rezoning.” So forgive us, we had to go with that because “boundary amendment” just doesn’t sing.

Sierra Club v. Castle & Cooke Homes Hawaii, Inc., No. SCWC-11-0000625 (Haw. Dec. 23, 2013)

– See more at: http://www.inversecondemnation.com/#sthash.ZbdkQo9x.dpuf

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