Kennewick City Council to fight Futurewise appeal

Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldMay 14, 2014 

The city of Kennewick is going to fight a Seattle-based special interest group's appeal of an expansion of the city's urban growth area for industrial development.

The Kennewick City Council unanimously approved Tuesday intervening in the appeal, which Futurewise filed with the state Growth Management Hearings Board.

Futurewise is asking the state board to rule that 1,263 acres south of Interstate 82 and west of Highway 395 should be protected as valuable agricultural land. The land is not currently farmed and the majority landowner says it is not profitable farmland.

Kennewick officials see the expansion as a way to solve the city's shortage of industrial land available for development and to bring more jobs into the community. They hope to market it to a range of companies.

Benton County commissioners made the decision to expand the urban growth area in February on behalf of the city. Kennewick Mayor Steve Young said the city would not dump the responsibility of defending that decision on the county.

"They are obstructionists," Young said of Futurewise. "It's what they do."

Councilman Bob Parks believes it is irresponsible for someone to hold the city hostage for "terrible" farmland, he said. He supports fighting the appeal, but wants to be aware of costs.

The city could hire an attorney who specializes in appeals to the Growth Management Hearings Board, City Attorney Lisa Beaton said. That may cost anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000.

Councilman John Trumbo thinks that amount is justified for the cause and the results that are in reach, he said.

"I believe we should be all in or all out," he said.

City Manager Marie Mosley said the city staff has done an "exceptional" job preparing a sound case and record.

Three members of the Growth Management Hearings Board will decide on the appeal based on the record developed at the county level, Beaton said. New evidence is not generally allowed.

The decision could be appealed all the way to the Washington Supreme Court, she said. With appeals, the process can become lengthy and expensive.

Also Tuesday:

-- Kennewick City Council recognized National Police Week, kicking off the council meeting with a presentation of the colors by an honor guard from the Fraternal Order of Police.

Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg told council that his officers act professionally and treat people with dignity and respect.

"I am very proud to work with each and every one," he said.

The annual memorial service to honor peace officers who have sacrificed themselves in the line of duty is scheduled for noon Saturday in the east end of Columbia Park near the Rotary stage. It will be followed by a free barbecue. Displays will start at 9 a.m.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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