Mayor Pro Tempore Terry Christensen became Richland’s mayor when Mayor Michael Alvarez joined the Benton County Commission. A new mayor pro tempore will be elected Tuesday night.

First up at the Richland City Council’s Tuesday, Jan. 17 meeting is the swearing in of new Councilmember Ryan Whitten. After that the seven councilmembers will vote for a new mayor pro tempore to replace Councilmember Terry Christensen who became mayor when Mayor Michael Alvarez became a Benton County Commissioner. This succession is outlined in the Richland City Charter, Section. 2.06.

Public hearing on proposed business tax break zone — Members of the public have three minutes to comment.

After these formalities, the Richland City Council will have a hearing for residents to comment on a new tax break zone, known as a Targeted Urban Area, being created to attract new businesses to the Horn Rapids industrial site.

The city wants to outbid Oregon to attract a Norwegian green fertilizer plant to build in Horn Rapids despite a warning in an email to the council from a Horn Rapids resident about potential dangers to their neighborhood in allowing this business to locate near a Perma-Fix radioactive waste processing facility on Battelle Blvd.

The fertilizer plant is “green” because it uses renewable energy to create hydrogen and ammonia, an ingredient for fertilizer. The anonymous Horn Rapids resident told the city council, “The risk of an explosion of hydrogen or ammonia on the nearby Perma-Fix radioactive inventory should be considered,”

At an Oct. 25 city council workshop, Councilmembers Theresa Richardson and Jhoanna Jones were enthusiastic about the project.

The Observer emailed  each city councilmember to ask if they were still in favor of locating the plant near Horn Rapids after hearing from the neighbor and also whether they felt they were doing enough to protect the residential development at Horn Rapids from potential dangers from the manufacturing area.

Only Councilmember Ryan Lukson responded and said, “At this time I am comfortable with the proposed action, but I do have more questions.”

There’s no word on how existing businesses there will feel about the newbies receiving property tax breaks.

Read about it in the packet of information starting on page 118. It includes a new map on page 120 that squiggles the boundary around the apartments and commercial areas instead of showing them as black spots like it did in the Dec. 20 packet.

Public comment period – You have two minutes to tell the council whatever you think they need to hear.

Amendments to the 1973 ordinance on public massage parlors and bathhouses

The city will amend its 1973 ordinance on public massage parlors and public bathhouses. The establishments must have a business license and there is new language making prostitution illegal and banning contact with another’s personal parts. If you crave details, you can find them on page. 27 of the packet. Information begins on Page 16.

Use of dangerous drugs in public

Since the Washington Supreme Court decision, State v. Blake, police can’t arrest people for possessing controlled substances. Cities can, however, prohibit their use in public. This ordinance lists the public places where the use of a controlled substance could result in a misdemeanor charge. Pg. 31

Other Items

The city will set a hearing for Feb. 21 to have public comments on vacating the Windmill Road right-of-way. Windmill Road is across from the Bookwalter Winery on the north side of Columbia Park Trail in south Richland.

No maps are provided but the description seems to indicate that the cul-de-sac was moved to facilitate development and the city wishes to abandon the previous location of the cul-de-sac. Pg. 35.

The city will extend its contract with Boyd’s Tree Service, LLC to December  31, 2023, not to exceed $350,000, to trim trees and bushes around power lines. Pg. 37

December checks are listed on pages 42-117.

The council will vote on proceeding with the tax break zone.

Councilmember Lukson wrote the Observer that he had questions.

City Manager and city council, blah, blah, blah blah