Neighborhood board’s attempt to force power lines underground is short circuited — for now

The board instead will discuss the power lines in a special meeting.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 11:29 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 23, 2023 at 5:28 AM HST
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KAPOLEI (HawaiiNewsNow) - An attempt by a neighborhood board to force a developer to put 46kV power lines underground in a Kapolei development has been put on hold.

The Makakilo-Kapolei-Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board was set to take action Wednesday night on a series of motions, ultimately aimed at blocking developer D.R. Horton and Hawaiian Electric Company from installing the lines overhead through the Hoopili subdivision.

Residents said last year that they were surprised when large poles started going up in their neighborhood, claiming that they were promised that utilities would be put underground.

The board’s proposals included supporting or even taking legal action to block the project.

But the plans got pushback from the head of the Neighborhood Board Commission.

“The board’s attempt by these motions to intervene in basically a contract dispute between private parties and participate in the administrative and legal process are actions that are outside the scope of your authority,” said Lloyd Yonenaka, executive secretary of the city’s Neighborhood Board Commission.

Yonenaka warned that board members could become personally liable.

An attorney for D.R. Horton has already filed two complaints against the board.

Board members said they were looking for answers and trying to reflect their community’s concerns.

“As far as we can tell, it’s supposed to be underground. But why? Why is it happening above ground? What’s going on?” asked neighborhood board chair Makana Paris.

In a statement, D.R. Horton said, “The 46kV sub-transmission lines being installed in Hoʻopili have been approved for overhead installation in accordance with State law. D.R. Horton has never made a commitment or promise, in any documentation or otherwise, to install the 46kV sub-transmission lines underground.”

In the end, the board members put a hold on the proposed motions, and will instead hold a special meeting sometime about two weeks, according to Paris.