Mansion Unsuccessfully Appealed

Zappacosta house ruling remains intact.

By Melissa Kelsey

In the minds of some Molokai residents, a 21,000 square foot mansion with 10 bathrooms, a separate guesthouse and a barn should not qualify as a single family farm dwelling.

“Why can’t everyone on Molokai live simply so we do not cause a footprint on this `aina?” asked community member Hanohano Naehu at the Molokai Planning Commission (MoPC) meeting last Wednesday.   

More than three months ago, the MoPC voted to exempt Pierluigi Zappacosta from having to obtain a Special Management Area (SMA) permit to build a mansion complex on Molokai shoreline agricultural land. Zappacosta is a cofounder of Logitech, a computer mouse and keyboard manufacturing company which markets products in over 100 countries.

Disagreeing with the ruling, community member Steve Morgan decided to appeal the MoPC’s decision. Two months ago, he wrote a letter to county Planning Director Jeffrey Hunt, arguing that Hunt wrongly described the mansion as a “single family farm dwelling,” thereby misleading commissioners into exempting the project from the permit.

Morgan said the mansion’s 10 bathrooms, separate guest house, swimming pool and Jacuzzi, barn, three sewage treatment utilities and desalination plant exceed the definition of a single family farm dwelling. Morgan also asserted that Zappacosta did not correctly complete paperwork for the application.

In a letter dated June 26, the county replied that it was advising MoPC to dismiss the appeal. Hunt explained that Morgan had erroneously presented the appeal to the county instead of MoPC. The reply also stated that Morgan’s appeal, submitted 16 days past deadline, was “untimely.”

The letter added that if the MoPC had successfully received the appeal, that it would be up to Circuit Court to decide on matters. Commissioner Lori Buchanan also explained that no action on the appeal could be legally taken by the MoPC.

“It is very difficult to understand because there is a lot of technical stuff,” said Molokai community member Walter Ritte at the MoPC meeting. “I am here to figure out how we can put this through a proper process.”



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