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Hawaii state agency OKs land parcel for possible development

April 2, 2021 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has told the federal government that it would accept a 0.125 square mile (0.32 square kilometers) parcel in Ewa Beach that the state agency plans to eventually redevelop to provide homesteads for Native Hawaiians.

The federal government last year offered the site of the former Pacific Tsunami Warning Center to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to help settle longstanding claims against the U.S. government for the unauthorized use of trust lands reserved for Native Hawaiians, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday.

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“This large swath of flat land is in close proximity to existing infrastructure, which will allow the department to develop these lands quicker and for a lower cost than our more isolated parcels,” said William Aila, the lands department director and chairman of the Hawaiian Homes Commission.

The offer stems from a 1995 federal law called the Hawaiian Home Lands Recovery Act that Congress passed to settle past claims. The federal government has so far transferred about 1.41 square miles (3.65 square kilometers) of land.

After the land is officially transferred, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is expected to ask the Legislature to fund planning for the parcel, which could potentially accommodate hundreds of homes, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

About 11,000 Native Hawaiian beneficiaries are waiting for residential homesteads on Oahu.

Native Hawaiians are eligible to apply for 99-year leases at $1 per year for residential, ranching or farming leases on a land trust of 317 square miles (821 square kilometers) overseen by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

The trust was created by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 to protect and improve the lives of Native Hawaiians, who are defined as having at least 50% Hawaiian ancestry.