Hawaii Supreme Court affirms landmark victory for BLRH client

BLRH won a landmark land use case when the Hawaii Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that reversed the State Land Use Commission’s decision to downzone the 1,000-acre Aina Le’a residential and commercial development. Landowner Bridge Aina Le’a, LLC–represented by BLRH attorneys Bruce Voss, Michael Carroll, and Matthew Shannon–challenged the Land Use Commission’s controversial order which would have changed the property’s land use classification to agricultural use. It was the first time in its 50-year history that the Land Use Commission had attempted to kill an ongoing project while affordable housing was being built on the property.

The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the Land Use Commission’s action violated the state’s land use statute, Chapter 205-4, when it attempted to change the land use classification to agricultural use despite the developer’s substantial commencement of construction. The Hawaii Supreme Court ruling echoed many of the arguments that BLRH attorneys Voss and Carroll had made to circuit court and Commission over the last several years. The ruling sets an important precedent for developers, lenders, and affordable housing advocates on projects throughout the State of Hawaii. The ruling makes clear that the Land Use Commission cannot kill a real estate development project based solely on alleged non-compliance with a condition imposed by the Commission.

Overall, BLRH’s victory allows construction of the Aina Le’a project to proceed and bring much needed affordable housing and public amenities to West Hawaii.

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