Correction: The spelling of City Attorney Heather Kintzley’s name has been corrected. The Observer apologizes for the error.
It helps to have friends in high places. The agenda for Tuesday’s Richland City Council meeting includes the sale of city property to Councilmember Theresa Richardson’s church and an exception for speed bumps in Meadow Springs, home to four of seven councilmembers.
Church wins the bid for city land
Only days after three members at a special Economic Development Committee (EDC) meeting voted 3-0 to recommend that the city sell a lot at 350 Thayer Drive to the New Heights Church, the sale appeared on the agenda under “consent calendar” for a Tuesday vote of council.
Items under the consent calendar receive no discussion and one vote.
Three proposals were submitted for the property, one for a single-family house, another for townhouses and the selected plan which would increase the size of the New Heights Church parking lot. Some material for the three proposals are included in the packet.
The church reported on their website that their members had voted 119 to 1 to approve the purchase of the property.
The Observer emailed City Attorney Heather Kintzley and asked if the consent calendar meant that Richardson would not be recusing herself from the vote. Kintzley responded:
“When a councilmember is required to abstain from participating in a vote due to a conflict of interest, and the item is listed on the consent calendar, the councilmember notifies the mayor when the consent calendar is read that the item needs to be pulled and relocated to the items of business.”
“Whether the item is listed as an item of business on the agenda or relocated to items of business from the consent calendar, the councilmember’s obligation remains the same, which is to disclose the conflict on the record and abstain from participating in the discussion or the vote. This is accomplished by announcing the conflict and leaving the room until the matter Is concluded.”
The city staff summary for the sale is on page 83 in the packet.
The summary mentions, “a scoring committee consisting of four individuals representing city staff, City Council, the Economic Development Committee and the Planning Commission (EDC).” Richland Planner Darin Arrasmith called this group a “team” at the EDC meeting.
The Observer asked City Manager Jon Amundson and Councilmember Jhoanna Jones, the EDC council liaison, who the team members were. They did not respond.
The Observer asked Kintzley if there were provisions in city ordinances for the creation of a committee or team to review land sales, and what were the rules for city-created “anonymous” groups or committees.
According to Kintzley, Chapter 3.06 of the Richland Code provides for input from “the EDC and, as appropriate, other boards, commissions, or individuals.”
As for the anonymous committee, Kintzley said that there was nothing that prevented disclosure or mandated it.
The city chose to make the group anonymous.
Kintzley also said that the Public Records Act does not exempt such information so it would not be redacted on a disclosable public record. A resident who requested those documents last week reports that they have not received records about the review team.
Meadow Springs gets an exception for speed bumps
The Claybell Park neighborhood in Meadow Springs will have a 20-mph playground speed zone around the park. In addition, Broadmoor Street will have “physical traffic calming.”
Like the land sale, the traffic calming is on the consent calendar for no discussion and one vote.
The staff summary on page 81 of the packet doesn’t mention the four-letter word, “bump,” possibly because other neighborhoods’ requests for speed bumps have been denied.
Other requests were rejected because the traffic on the street was not going fast enough to meet city requirements. Traffic on Broadmoor also did not meet the requirements, so the council must grant an exception for the two speed bumps the city will install.
City staff has held two neighborhood town halls in Claybell Park to discuss complaints about speeding and pickleball players parking on the street.
Meadow Springs is home to Councilmembers Sandra Kent, Shayne Van Dyke, Michael Alvarez and Ryan Lukson.
Both Lukson and Alvarez are in close races against fellow Republicans for other public offices in Benton County. Lukson is running against Eric Eisenger for Benton County prosecutor and Alvarez is running against Bill Jenkin for Benton County Commission District 2. Citizens from all of Benton County will vote on the two positions.
First on the agenda is an update from Friends of Badger Mountain. The packet includes pictures and maps on pages 4-12. Later the council will vote to authorize $250,000 to purchase six acres for the trail system. See pages 117-130.
Catholic Charities outlines its services on pages 14-20
Surplus property is listed on pages on pages 143-145. If you need a dump truck or pickup truck, take a look.
Other mostly housekeeping items will be considered and it’s on to blah, blah, blah, city manager and members of the city council.