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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, January 9, 2006

In Kahuku, residents fear sale of estate land

Associated Press

KAHUKU Holding signs and waving flags, residents of the plantation homes of Kahuku rallied along a two-lane stretch of Kamehameha Highway this past weekend.

Last summer the Campbell Estate announced it would sell its last 2,000 acres in the area. And locals are concerned a sale could come soon as the estate prepares to dissolve at the end of 2006.

The land sits under the plantation-era homes of about 70 residents many of whom are worried a new owner will evict them and develop the land.

More than 60 area residents rallied on Saturday morning along the highway to "Keep Kahuku Country."

Colinda Salanoa, 50, and her husband, Molia, pay lease-rent on a three-bedroom home for their family of seven.

"We want to be able to purchase our home, or at least have the right to it," she said.

Campbell Vice President Bert Hatton said the estate is not willing to subdivide into house-sized plots. Such subdividing would require expensive sewer and flood prevention work.

Hatton said any buyer planning to do any development on the land would need to pay for those improvements. They would also need to consider the welfare of residents.

"In this town you tend not to get anything done unless you have the support of the community," he said.

The termination of the estate is also not a deadline for the sale, he said.

"There's no connection between the end of the estate and our sale of land," he said.

When talking about their fear that they might soon enough have nowhere to live, residents point to nearby Velzeyland, where rental units were leveled to build an expensive subdivision.

Since Kahuku Sugar closed in 1972, about 100 of the former sugar company houses have been sold to residents. The city owns land under 177 homes that it can't sell until the completion of sewer and flood work.

Residents of the plantation homes pay their $250 to $850 in monthly rent to the nonprofit Kahuku Village Association, and often work several jobs and live with multiple generations of their families.

"The moment somebody comes here and builds a million-dollar-plus mansion, property taxes are going to go up 300 percent, like they did in Sunset Beach," said resident Ralph Makaiau. "And people that live here don't get those kind of raises."