The Richland City Council spent almost as much time Tuesday night in secret, executive session as it did zipping through the rest of the agenda. It doesn’t take long when 21 items on the consent calendar have no discussion and one vote.
No resident commented on any of the three public hearings.
The second hearing, the proposed rezoning of the riverfront property now zoned for parks to waterfront zoning to allow for commercial development, was a closed hearing. A resident could only comment if they had participated in the hearing examiner process.
The hearing examiner announcements appear in some obscure section, in tiny print, in the Tri City Herald. They also appear on the city’s website if you think to look for the sporadic hearings.
However, during the public comment section, residents are given a whole two minutes to talk about whatever their little heart’s desire. That didn’t stop the city clerk from calling the The Observer on Tuesday afternoon to find out what she planned to talk about. Is this something new???
The Observer congratulated the city council for bringing so many of us together –left, right and center politically — in opposing any fooling with our parks or parkland. She asked that they pull the item from the consent calendar and have a discussion and a separate vote so everyone could see where they stand on the matter.
Mayor Ryan Lukson pointed out the comment didn’t count since The Observer didn’t participate with the hearing examiner. “Nothing personal,” he said.
Later Lukson explained that the Waterfront zoning had recently be changed to allow for parks as well as other types of development. Councilmembers Michael Alvarez and Terry Christensen said that they believed that there would be a park on the site. Hummm, then why did they change the zoning?
The council also voted unanimously to approve a controversial residential townhouse development on the Horn Rapids golf course.
I watched the city council meeting on Cityview. I was taken aback at how quickly they went thru the agenda. What went on behind closed doors for the first 30 minutes? You and one other commented, thankfully, regarding the rezoning along Bradley. I am afraid instead of that area being developed as park area for the public it will now be commercially developed.
Thank you for your diligence and reporting Randy.
Thank you Myra. The stated purpose of the secret, executive session was to “discuss current or potential litigation with legal counsel.” The council puts almost all items on the agenda in a consent calendar where they receive no discussion and one vote. According to the Institute for Local Government, “Items on the consent calendar are generally non-controversial items that do not need much, if any, discussion.” To Richland City Council that is virtually everything and saves them from any accountability. The item that gave American Cruise Line a 15-year contract for priority use of the Lee Street Dock was on the consent calendar even as another cruise line objected. A member can remove an item from the consent calendar for discussion and a separate vote but according to some people who have been members of the council, such a move is highly discouraged because it takes up time and forces people to go on the record with a vote.
Why is the townhouse development controversial? Is the hotel next to Riteaid going to be apts? Are they gping to be low income?
Hi Kathy, In my article I link to the about 1000 pages in the packet that include correspondence pro and con from people regarding the Horn Rapids townhouses. Some homeowners said that they paid a premium for a home with a golf course view that will be blocked by the new development. We have been told that the hotel next to Rite Aid will be converted to apartments. I’m not aware of any information about the amount of rent that will be charged for the apartments.
Kathy, back to the Horn Rapids controversy. Sometimes I assume that my readers have been keeping up like I do. Who in their right mind keeps up like I do😂 You have reminded me to stop doing that!!! I’ll try to explain better next time.
If you look at the developer’s other properties, they are not low income (Section 8?) housing. They’re just smaller apartments. Of the various hotels the developer bought, that particular one most likely has some suites that would be bigger than say the Days Inn property. https://fortifyholdings.com/properties/
Thank you for reading the Observer. To my knowledge Fortify has completed NO hotel conversions The pictures on their website are apartment complex remodels, not hotel conversions. They have purchased as many as 15 hotels in 4 cities in about the last year, but to my knowledge no conversion has been completed. If you have information about a completed conversion, please let me know. Thanks, Randy
Council does and never has listened to the residents. I remember the Amon Basin project, I think is was called. Residents went to Council, asked to protect the wildlife in the area. Residents were told Council would revisit their interest and Low and Behold development started and continues. Regarding Horn Rapids, I watched as residents of that area presented their reasonable concerns to Council. Sad that they were not listened to. Many purchased the homes and paid premium with the understanding that they would have a view of the Golf Course.