Couple faces fine for turning mill into residence

The Board of Land and Natural Resources will consider fining a Big Island couple $15,000 today for turning an old coffee mill into a residence on property next to Isaac Hale Beach Park.

The work occurred without a conservation district use permit, required since the building is within a conservation district, according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Ken Fujiyama, representing owners Lawrence and Ida Smith, wrote to DLNR that the couple inquired about permitting beforehand but were told action wasn’t needed since renovations involved the interior.

The home sits on a 36-acre oceanfront parcel south of the park.

Hawaii County wants to acquire 26 acres of the property for public use. Payment of the fine would allow that process, which also requires subdivision of the land, to proceed, according to DLNR.

The county added the property to its list of lands to be acquired through the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation fund in 2010.

A spokesman for the county Department of Parks and Recreation said future use of the property has not been determined, though it could be added to the park if purchased.

The board will also consider accepting an environmental assessment for the Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor improvement project.

Additionally, the board will consider canceling the Department of Defense’s revocable permit for use of the Kulani Correctional Facility and granting a permit to the state Department of Public Safety for reopening the facility as a prison in July.

Defense has used the site for the Hawaii Youth Challenge Academy, which will be relocated.

The state Department of Public Safety’s permit will go into effect once the academy relocates.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.