Judge rules for developer, in Coco Palms land dispute

Resort destroyed by Hurricane Iniki may finally be rebuilt

LIHUE (AP) — A Hawaii developer will be able to lay groundwork for a resort in Kauai, ending court dealings in a lengthy property dispute.

Circuit Court Chief Judge Randall Valenciano ruled in favor of Coco Palms Hui LLC, owned by Chad Waters and Tyler Greene, paving the way for the company to file permits and eye the rebuild of the Coco Palms resort hotel, The Garden Island reported Friday.

“We would hope to start (construction), within the next six to nine months,” Greene said.

Absent from the day’s proceedings, which lasted just over a minute, were Noa Mau-Espirito and Kamu “Charles” Hepa, who have been battling the development of the property.

They claimed ownership of the land through ancestral rights and planned to turn it into a cultural and religious center for the Kanaka Maoli.

Valenciano, who stated the court hadn’t received written opposition on the matter, ruled in favor of the summary judgment that was filed in court on June 6.

Mau-Espirito said his camp isn’t done filing appeals. He also said they weren’t informed of the day’s proceedings.

“I had no idea there was a hearing today,” he said. “The last thing I heard from them was their request in summary judgment so I answered their finding with my own answer. I was waiting to hear back from them. I didn’t know I had court.”

Mau-Espirito agreed that there currently wasn’t anything filed in Kauai courts regarding this case, but he did say they’ve filed appeals with the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals on Oahu.

Greene said their goal is to bring back the old Coco Palms, which was damaged during a hurricane in 1992 and had stood in disrepair until he and business partner Waters obtained a special warranty deed for the property from Prudential real estate for reconstruction.

Once completed, the $175 million project is slated to boast 350 rooms, 12,000 square feet of retail space, three leisure areas and a cultural center.