Governor, OHA Urge Lawmakers To Approve Ceded Land Deal
$200 Million Settlement Needs Legislative Approval
Two committees in the Senate and House heard a bill Monday that would settle ceded land claims dating back to 1978.
The deal would hand over prime Kakakao land to settle a lawsuit over ceded land revenue.
It includes 30 acres in an area that is said to generate more than $1 million dollars a year in lease rent for the state. The greatest potential is said to be in the development of the waterfront.
"This is in conjunction with the development of Kewalo Basin. This is an unprecedented opportunity for a commercial foundation for Native Hawaiians. This is unprecedented. This is going to be worth a fortune," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
To some, it is a fortune to fund a future--a land base for a yet-to-be-established nation of Hawaii.
"This will not be OHA's lands. We want this to be clearly understood that we just holding for the nation when we are ready," said OHA chairwoman Collette Machado.
OHA does hope to be able to develop one of two parcels along Ala Moana Boulevard right away. The plan would include a high-rise that would eventually house OHA offices and bring other other Native Hawaiian groups including Alu Like and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation under the same roof.
"Many believe that they are opala lands because it was a rubbish dump, but there is still the inshore areas inside of Kewalo that is still very profitable to develop and these lands are meant to be revenue generators for our beneficiaries," Machado said.
?The zoning would allow for just about any development to take place except for residential,? said Anthony Chang, executive director of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which oversees the Kakaako district.
Historically, redevelopment plans for Kakaako Makai have met with stiff public opposition, something that OHA will still have to overcome.
Machado was confident of support in the Senate but not so in the House where a critical deadline looms midweek.
"If it doesn't get moved out by 11a.m. Wednesday, the bill will die here in the house," Machado said.
She added that OHA trustees still have reservations about environmental cleanup issues on some of the parcels including a marine repair facility.
OHA has begun conducting hearings around the state to get public input from Native Hawaiians on the settlement. OHA trustees are also scheduled to take a formal vote on the deal on Thursday.
OHA says if there are other provisions that lawmakers add to the deal over the next few weeks, the trustees have until have until March 1, to consider the changes and back out of the settlement if they chose to.
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