A judge has ruled in favor of a lender in a foreclosure suit on a former Pacific Northwest logger who attempted to turn the former Haina sugar mill in Honokaa into a sawmill.
Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara entered judgment Dec. 8 against Haina Properties LLC and Robert J. Marr, known as “Barefoot Bob.” The ruling clears the way for a liquidation sale of the mill property.
Haina Mill Mortgage Lender LLC, a Delaware limited liability -company, filed the foreclosure suit in June 2009, claiming that Haina Properties and Marr — manager of Haina Properties and owner of the 49-acre mill property — defaulted on a $4.785 million loan taken out Sept. 27, 2007, plus an additional $379,000 borrowed May 2, 2008.
All told, Marr owes almost $6.2 million to Haina Mill Mortgage Lender, counting principal, interest, fees, taxes and expenses.
Also named as defendants in the suit were Kamehameha Schools and Hamakua Land Partnership LLP as owner and lessee, respectively, of Standard Oil Road, the access road to the mill. In addition, the county was named for property tax purposes.
Marr bought the 49-acre mill property for $3.3 million in October 2007. He told area residents that the mill — which closed as a sugar mill in 1994 — would provide 110 jobs paying $12 to $25 an hour, and would run in an environmentally-responsible manner.
By Editor on June 2, 2010
Editor’s note: This oped is by James Maroney of Leicester. He is a former organic dairy farmer.
The dairy business in the spring of 2010 is heading for an ugly climax. In previous times, when milk prices were merely low, conventional farmers would hunker down to wait until prices improved. But when prices are $5 to $8 per hundred weight below cost, as they are now, even “efficient” farmers face the prospect of bankruptcy.
Any concern that finds itself cash flow negative will sooner or later be forced out of business. Secured creditors can force a defaulting business into Chapter 7 bankruptcy and auction its assets for their own accounts. The owner gets what is left, which is invariably nothing. Forced bankruptcy carries hard connotations of failure and shame, feelings that proud farmers—perhaps more than any other group—will want to avoid.
But there is an important difference between forced liquidation under Chapter 7 and voluntary reorganization under Chapter 12. Voluntary filing for Federal Bankruptcy Protection is a smart, pro-active tactic available to any farmer who needs time to adjust to market forces beyond his or her control. Under Chapter 12, a federal statute written especially for farmers, the farmer stays in business as a “debtor in possession,” dedicating cash flow not to debt service but to a new business plan.