Richland gives partial OK for zoning changes

Tri-City HeraldMay 20, 2014 

The Richland City Council on Tuesday gave initial approval to some zoning changes that would pave the way for the proposed Clearwater Creek subdivision in the southern part of the city.

The 4-1 vote came after more than 11⁄2 hours of public testimony and deliberation. It doesn’t mean the subdivision is a done deal. The council will take another vote on the zoning changes during its June 3 meeting and also will consider the Clearwater Creek preliminary plat at that session.

Mayor Dave Rose cast the dissenting vote Tuesday, saying that he felt the residential zone proposed was out of sync with the area.

Council members Sandra Kent, Phillip Lemley, Terry Christensen and Gregory L. Jones voted in favor. Councilman Bob Thompson was absent and Councilman Brad Anderson recused himself because of business dealings with the developer.

After the session, Christensen said the issue has been difficult, but “the city has a comprehensive plan. The city has zoning in its ordinances. A private property owner has to meet those requirements. If they meet all the requirements, you can’t tell them, ‘No, you can’t do it.’ ”

He noted the council will vote again on the matter. He also said a city road through the adjacent Amon Creek Natural Preserve -- which isn’t part of the subdivision proposal but has come up as it’s worked its way through city government -- doesn’t make sense to him.

Clearwater Creek, proposed by Hayden Homes, is to have 320 residential lots, about 14 acres for a school and 32 acres of open space.

The project has stirred controversy in the community, primarily over possible harm to the Amon preserve, although an agreement between Hayden Homes and the nonprofit Tapteal Greenway -- which worked to create the 80-plus-acre preserve -- has helped ease worries.

The agreement sets up a buffer between the natural area and the subdivision.

Still, Tapteal members and others in the community remain concerned that the city may eventually extend a road across the preserve to the subdivision as part of a longer east-west route between Leslie Road and Steptoe Street.

That road isn’t in the works at this time but has been identified as an eventual need.

Opposition to a road through the preserve dominated public testimony during a city planning commission hearing, and also Tuesday’s meeting.

A public demonstration at the preserve last weekend drew about 75 people.

The city is in the midst of updating its long-term transportation plan. The parks and recreation commission recently reviewed it and recommended approval, with the extension of the road through the preserve dropped.

The planning commission also will weigh in, with the city council eventually making the call.

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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