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Bill for Condemnation of Molokai Ranch

Yesterday, Representative Mele Carroll introduced House Bill 1295, authorizing condemnation of Molokai Ranch. Below is the full text of the Bill.

Report Title:
Eminent Domain; Molokai Ranch
 
Description:
Directs governor to acquire Molokai Ranch from GuocoLeisure Ltd.
 
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
H.B. NO.    1295
TWENTY-FIFTH LEGISLATURE, 2009         
STATE OF HAWAII         
          
A BILL FOR AN ACT

RELATING TO LAND ACQUISITION.
 
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
 

SECTION 1.  The legislature notes that on April 5, 2008, Molokai Properties Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore-based GuocoLeisure Limited, terminated all normal operations of its various holdings and businesses on the island of Molokai, including the Molokai Lodge, Kaupoa Beach Village, Kaluakoi Golf Course, Maunaloa Town Cinemas, Maunaloa gas station, and its cattle operations, resulting in the loss of one hundred twenty jobs on the island that already has the highest unemployment rate in the State.  Further, Molokai Ranch indicated that it was also denying access to most of its landholdings, that comprise approximately one-third of the entire island of Molokai, to the public who used those lands for purposes of gathering, hunting, and fishing, thereby supporting the type of subsistence lifestyle that many residents of Molokai have, by necessity, come to rely on to survive.
The legislature further notes that the Molokai Properties Limited landholding contain numerous wahi pana, places of historical and cultural value, including heiau and ceremonial sites, ancient taro loi, and loko ia, ancient Hawaiian fishponds. 
In the recent past, there have been a number of private entities that have expressed an interest in acquiring all or parts of Molokai Properties Limited landholdings, estimated to be worth $200,000,000.  Alternate energy producer, UPC Wind Company, has pledged $50,000,000 to purchase land and rights to establish a wind farm capable of generating electrical energy from the winds at the west end of the island.
The legislature therefore declares that it is in the public interest to meet the needs of the entire Molokai community and to protect and preserve Hawaii's historic and cultural heritage, to acquire private lands currently owned by Molokai Properties Limited and GuocoLeisure Ltd., and their successors in interest, for preservation, by purchasing those lands, exercising the State's power of eminent domain to acquire those lands or, by negotiations, participating in a cooperative agreement with other interested parties to acquire those lands.
     The purpose of this Act is to appropriate funds and to authorize the governor to acquire all of the landholdings of Molokai Properties Limited and GuocoLeisure Ltd. on the island of Molokai by exercising the State's power of eminent domain or, by negotiations, entering into a cooperative agreement with other interested parties to acquire the property.
     SECTION 2.  The governor shall immediately initiate negotiations with Molokai Properties Limited and GuocoLeisure Ltd., and their successors in interest, to acquire all properties held by Molokai Properties Limited and GuocoLeisure Ltd. on the island of Molokai.  The financing of the acquisition may be by one or more of the following means:
(1)  Appropriations made by the legislature from the general fund or any special funds;
(2)  General obligation bonds authorized by the legislature;
(3)  Exchange of public lands, to the extent authorized by law;
(4)  Federal funds;
(5)  Private funds, financing, or donations; or
(6)  Any other means of financing the governor may negotiate. 
SECTION 3.  If the governor finds that it is not feasible for the State to acquire sole interest of the property identified in section 2 of this Act, the governor shall seek out and, if possible, enter into a cooperative agreement or agreements with private or other public entities interested in preserving the identified property for the purpose of cooperatively acquiring the property.
     SECTION 4.  The governor shall submit a report to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2010 regarding the governor's efforts to acquire the aforementioned lands and the governor's recommendations for financing the purchase of the property.
     SECTION 5.  If an agreement to acquire the property by negotiation is not reached within a reasonable time, as determined by the governor, the governor shall exercise the power of eminent domain to acquire the property.  For purposes of this Act, condemnation of the property shall not be subject to legislative disapproval.
     SECTION 6.  There is appropriated out of the special land and development fund the sum of $        or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2009-2010 for the purchase of all the landholdings of Molokai Properties Limited and GuocoLeisure Ltd. on the island of Molokai, as identified in this Act or to commence the condemnation process of those lands.
     The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of land and natural resources for the purposes of this Act.
     SECTION 7.  The director of finance is authorized to issue general obligation bonds in the sum of $           or so much thereof as may be necessary and the same sum or so much thereof as may be necessary is appropriated for fiscal year 2009-2010 for the purchase of all the property owned by Molokai Properties Limited and GuocoLeisure Ltd. on the island of Molokai, as identified in this Act.
     SECTION 8.  The appropriation made for the land acquisition authorized by this Act shall not lapse at the end of the fiscal biennium for which the appropriation is made; provided that all moneys from the appropriation unencumbered as of June 30, 2010, shall lapse as of that date.
     The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of land and natural resources for the purposes of this Act.
     SECTION 9.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2009.

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