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.