The largest fine for shoreline setback encroachments ever imposed by Maui County was approved as part of a settlement agreement by the Maui Planning Commission on Tuesday.
Larry and Sara Dodge, of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., and Makena, will pay $65,000 to settle four county violations, remove a wall and seek after-the-fact permits for repairs done to their deck.
The settlement still requires the signature of Mayor Charmaine Tavares, and before the Dodges can remove the wall they will need permits from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Their lawyer, Paul Mancini, told the commission that the Dodges “have been through a hellish nightmare for three years” since purchasing the 17,000-square-foot lot at Paako Beach, also known as Secret Beach, for $6 million.
The five-bedroom house was a fixer-upper, assessed by the Real Property Tax Division at only $250,000, and, according to Mancini, the Dodges made repairs to their deck and built what the settlement describes as a “planter-box wall.”
DLNR officials decided that, since it was at least partially built on sand, it was in the state conservation district and required a conservation district permit. Once the county became aware of the state position, it issued violations for work in the shoreline setback area without a setback permit or a special management area permit.
Similar violations were issued for the deck work.
Deputy Corporation Counsel Mimi Johnston described the fines as the largest of their type ever imposed by the county.
The long negotiations for a settlement were complicated “by cross-jurisdictional issues,” Mancini said.
The house also needed roof repairs, but the owners could not get a permit for that until they cleared up their outstanding violations on the shoreline problems.
Commission member Ward Mardfin noticed that in one place in the agreement the wall was described as a seawall, and he asked whether the work involved “hardening of the shoreline.”
Mancini said: “There is some question about exactly what it is,” but he described it as “rocks fronting a sand beach,” at least in part. He also said the spot was “perceived by some to be conservation land.”
The term “planter-box wall” was agreed to after discussions. Johnston said “a big hurdle” in the settlement talks was how to characterize the wall.
Mancini described the situation as “very complex,” especially after the DLNR citation was treated as a contested case.
Now that the county issues are on the verge of being disposed of, Mancini said, “I think the state will be cooperative with us” in authorizing permits to remove the wall.
The beach in question is a tiny pocket beach with scattered lava rocks jutting out of the sand. It is a favorite spot for weddings.