POSTED: 12 MARCH 2005 - 9:30am HST

Software Mogul Sells Molokai Land for $3.1M

North coast (pali) of Molokai too steep for development

Software Mogul Sells Molokai Land for $3.1M
by the Associated Press 11 March 2005

KAUNAKAKAI, Hawaii - A large tract of pristine oceanfront land was auctioned to an anonymous bidder for $3.1 million over the objections of protesters who feared the sale would lead to development on rural Molokai island.

The winning bidder, a woman representing a New York company, outbid 42 others Thursday for the land being sold by software company founder John McAfee.

Announcement of the winning bid was posted on the Web by The National Auction Group, the Gadsden, Ala.-based company hired to handle the sale.

McAfee, 60, founder of the antivirus software company that bears his name, bought the 1,046 acres for $1.3 million in 2003 with the idea of building a house on it. But McAfee said he decided to sell because of permitting hassles.

"I was afraid I was going to take a loss, so I was glad that didn't happen," he said.

Molokai residents had been upset by the sale since the auction company first advertised the property in The Wall Street Journal, describing it as McAfee's "historic oceanfront plantation.

Protesters carried signs that said "Developers Go Home," "Auction Canceled Today," "Don't Buy" and "Stop the Sale" to try and dissuade bidders. The entire 12-member Molokai police force was called out to control the protesters, which tried to push their way onto the property.

"I hear you, I appreciate you, but it's too late," McAfee told the protesters just before the auction began.

Native Hawaiian community activist Walter Ritte Jr., a protest organizer, said residents were upset because McAfee had assured them when he bought the land that he would not try to use it for development or speculation.

Some residents worry that wealthy investors from the mainland buying large tracts of land on rural Molokai will drive up property values and taxes so that families who have lived there for generations won't be able to afford homes.

Others objected to the way the land, which is zoned for conservation, was advertised as having "excellent development potential."

"This is basically a power struggle for Molokai's future," Ritte said. "Our future generation is going to pay the price. They aren't going to be able to afford to live here."

McAfee owns other property on Molokai and said he is buying 1,800 acres several miles east of Mapulehu.

"I want to build a home further away from people," he said.


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