Our group came into being in 1988, when it was learned that the developer, Kohala Joint Venture (KJV), had applied for approvals for an urban area in the middle of Kohala Ranch which was not at all in keeping with the quiet ranch setting that had been promised to buyers. This news came as a shock to many of the lot owners, and there was much testimony against the project. Concerns included traffic, security, water resources, and light pollution.
Nonetheless, KJV got approvals for 1490 dwelling units and a 17.7-acre commercial area, with Kohala Ranch Road as the sole access. Kohala Ranch homeowner John Broussard and another North Kohala resident brought suit to stop the development, and prevailed in lower court.
The matter was appealed to the State Supreme Court, however, and remanded to a different judge in lower court, whose decision this time was to uphold the granting of the approvals. The case was again appealed to the State Supreme Court, which in February of 2000 decided to allow the lower court decision--and the rezoning--to stand.
Before the decision came down, KJV, which had been purchased by airline Lufthansa, had negotiated the sale of all its assets to Kohala Ranch lot owner Bob Acree, who apparently got the 1270 acres of Project IV, plus about 96 marketable lots in other parts of the Ranch, some property in neighboring Kohala Estates, and the Kohala Ranch Water Company for $6,110,000.
During the years that the Project IV case was in court, the Concerned Property Owners turned their attention to management, governance and outside issues.
For many years everything at the Ranch had been run by KJV's local hired consultant--the Joint Venture partners being located back east--without adequate supervision or accountability. There were many undesirable consequences to this, not the least of which was that the Association seemed to be paying way too much for landscaping maintenance to a company called BJ Services, in what appeared to be a kickback scheme.
Kelly Pomeroy did an in depth report on the maintenance function and an expose of the consultant, and in the first half of 1999 KJV finally replaced the consultant, and the Board chose a new maintenance contractor, saving the Associatioin $60,000-$70,000 or more per year.
Bob Acree, who bought out KJV, was very friendly with the owner of BJ Services and, after the Association allowed the company to come back, defended him. However, the company improperly charged the Association tens of thousands of dollars extra for work that was supposed to be covered by the contract, and the management company we had at that time went ahead and paid the bill without questioning it. In 2006 we got rid of BJ Services a second time...as well as that management company.
It's sometimes difficult to get the Board's attention. Kelly Pomeroy repeatedly complained to the Board that Bob Acree was voting four lots that were not in the Association. It took them several years to finally look into this and remove those four lots from the Association roster.
Kelly also repeatedly pointed out that the agreement which allowed Acree to avoid paying some of his dues on Heathers II lots was completely illegal under the CC&Rs, as well as in violation of the legal principle of equity. Nothing was done to correct that situation, however, and the agreement expired after a couple of years.
We also objected when some directors claimed that creating a second entry lane and gate at the lower entrance was not only needed to avoid a crisis, but could be paid for out of the reserves. Our polls of residets and our own observations told us that the emergency did not exist, and the CPAs we consulted agreed with us that this would be a capital expenditure, and therefore would require a vote of the members. We finally did get some of the Board members take action to stop this premature expenditure, at a time when we were already burdened with expensive earthquake repairs.
In general, we have tried to get the Association to be more open, responsive, and democratic. We have sent out questionnaires and organized residents' forums. We have been publishing the Kohala Ranch News and electing candidates to the Board since the beginning. The number of directors that do not have an agenda other than the good of the members has been growing, but we still don't have a reliable majority.
In the 2008 board campaign we tried to make the election be issues-oriented, but were thwarted in our attempts to get information to members who would be participating by proxy about where the candidates stood on the issues. We finally offered to send out, in our own mailing, the candidates' responses to the questions that had been submitted. But only our own candidate responded, so we sent out only his answers.
Outside issues have included proposed developments on nearby lands, a possible power plant at Kawaihae, high tension lines that could have been routed through the middle of the Ranch, etc. These have all pretty much died a quiet death.
We have also been active in trying to keep the leeward Kohala coastline as open as possible and any development that does occur to be low-key and unobtrusive. This is difficult when the County Planning Dept. isn't even willing to ask for earth-tone colors, because the developers might not like that.
The biggest outside issue in our area right now is the Superferry, which was projected to start docking in Kawaihae in 2009, possibly disgorging and taking in hundreds of automobiles at each visit. The infrastructure is sadly lacking for an enterprise of this magnitude. The Concerned Property Owners have not gotten involved in this issue, however, not knowing how most owners would feel about it. There are pros and cons.
Some of our members also played a major role in establishment of the North Kohala Coast Volunteer Fire Company, which is housed at Kohala Ranch but serves a larger area. The fire company not only helps to protect our homes, but it has resulted in substantial savings on homeowner's insurance for many owners (though it may depend on which company one insures with). We don't know if it has enhanced property values, but it certainly can't hurt!
For more information, also see the sections on PROJECT IV, WATER ISSUES and OTHER ISSUES.
Please feel free to let us know what your own concerns are.