Windward homeowners confused by city condemnation letter

Windward homeowners confused by city condemnation letter

KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ray Bizik is a private contractor and a small business man who has worked long and hard to buy two townhouses at Aikahi Gardens.

"That's what I have. That's it. That's what I worked hard for," he said.

Imagine his anxiety when he read a letter from the city's Design and Construction Department that said it was in the process of asking the City Council to authorize condemnation to acquire the subject parcel for this project.

"Basically, it sounded like, 'Okay. They want to come in and just take the property,'" he said.

All 148 property owners at Aikahi Gardens got the same letter. Many of them called the city asking if this meant they could lose their homes.

"No. They definitely won't lose their property. What we are seeking is an easement, subsurface easement, through their parcel for the tunnel," the department's deputy director Mark Yonamine said.

He said the land that could be condemned is 60 sixty feet down, not what's on the surface. But the letter does not state that.

"The wording of the letter should have been different," Bizik said.

The tunnel is a three-mile long gravity sewer tunnel that will take wastewater from a facility in Kaneohe to the treatment plant in Kailua. Aikahi Gardens is at the end of the line. Collectively, the community is one of three parcels along the route that have not yet agreed to the city's easement arrangement.

Yonaminie says condemnation is a last resort.

"We definitely don't want to do that," he said. "I think we can work it out where we can come to an agreement with them."

The department held a community meeting with about 50 owners of Aikahi Gardens units Wednesday to calm their fears.

"Definitely, we want to be open, answer any questions, make sure that they're clear because this project is very important to the city," Yonamine said.

Bizik still is concerned. He said even if no condemnation takes place, he believes he stands to lose property value.

"The fact is they're still going to use the land. So we don't lose our homes. But I'm sure it will kill the value of the property," he said.

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