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Administration interested in parcel that’s pending

Land includes a chunk of Giggle Hill

Haiku landmark Giggle Hill is lit by the morning sun Friday. A spokesman for the mayor said earlier this week that the county would be interested in acquiring nearly 215 acres that include Giggle Hill if a pending sale falls through. The property, which is listed for $10.5 million by owner Kauhikoa Investors, is currently pending sale with an unknown buyer. — The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Maui County’s administration would be interested in acquiring an approximately 200-acre parcel that sits adjacent to 4th Marine Division Memorial Park in Haiku, a spokesperson for the mayor said earlier this week.

But the county will have to wait and see if a current offer from an unknown buyer goes through for the privately owned parcel on the Haiku town side of Giggle Hill.

Currently the 214.92-acre property, owned by Kauhikoa Investors LLC, is pending sale, according to Realtor.com. The price is listed at $10.5 million.

The property was last sold in 2009 for approximately $2.4 million, according to county property tax records.

The parcel also contains a good chunk of the actual Giggle Hill, nicknamed after the giggles sometimes heard from the area during the World War II era when soldiers training in Haiku would bring girls to the hill.

Giggle Hill’s rows of tall straight Cook pines features one with a big bow in this photo taken in 2011. — The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

On the mauka side of the property is the county’s 4th Marine Division Park. The park includes the Kalakupua Playground.

A spokesperson said that Mayor Michael Victorino was unaware of the privately owned parcel being on the market, but if the sale does not close, Victorino would be interested in acquiring the parcel.

The county has acquired 1,000 acres for open space in the county since Victorino took office, the spokesperson said.

Haiku Community Association President Lucienne de Naie said her board is “kind of concerned” about the potential sale and what a new owner would propose.

She noted that a portion of the land for sale is designated in the Paia-Haiku Community Plan as “park” for open space.

Haiku’s Fourth Marine Division Memorial Park and Kalakupua Playground may have new neighbors soon. This photo was taken Friday morning. — The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

According to county documents, a park community plan designation is intended to preserve and manage lands for recreational activities, including golf courses and related amenities. The community plan map for Paia-Haiku shows that the most of the vegetative area of the property that includes a stand of trees atop the hill is under park designation. The other larger portion of the property such as the pasture-type land toward Haiku town is designated as agriculture.

But de Naie said owners could seek to change the community plan designation.

Fourth Marine Division Park and Giggle Hill are used by many, and “the top of the pu’u is widely used” by hikers and people walking their dogs, de Naie said. She added that the park is popular as folks use the playground and pavilions.

“We will weigh what our options are,” she said earlier this week, noting a subcommittee has been formed to take a look into the matter.

She said maybe there could be a conservation easement, which does give an owner some tax advantages.

“I think that the main thing is that we want to reach out to the mayor, our council member and agent for the developer, and just express the desire to see our community plan followed,” she said.

De Naie noted that the county does have open space funds that could help acquire the parcel.

Maui County Council Member Mike Molina, who holds the Paia-Haiku-Makawao residency seat, couldn’t be reached for comment on Friday.

According to the listing, the property has three county water meters in place and a current preliminary subdivision under review for approximately 15 to 18 lots.

The listing says the 214 acres are of open pastures, massive groves of mature Cook pine and eucalyptus trees and more than one mile of stream frontage.

The property owner Kauhikoa Investors LLC, which has an Ojai, Calif. address, is being represented by ranch land broker and land consultant Hugh Starr, who said he was only authorized to share what is publicly available on the offering.

Kauhikoa Investors’ attorney Tom Welch also said he could not comment as he is prohibited by Supreme Court Rules of Professional Conduct from disclosing anything to do with his client’s business or any pending transaction.

The company manager listed on Hawaii business records for Kauhikoa Investors could not immediately be reached for comment this week.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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