KENNEWICK — A Benton County judge Friday allowed a land use lawsuit filed by two groups of south Richland homeowners against the city of Richland to proceed to trial Jan. 25.
The city and developer Wolff Enterprises attempted to have the case dismissed, arguing the homeowners hadn't filed the suit on time, but Superior Court Judge Robert Swisher refused.
"That means the procedural defenses are gone," said Joel Comfort, attorney for the homeowners. "Now we go to the merits and get to argue our case that the decision issued by the city was unlawful."
Members of the Applewood Estates Homeowners Association and Brantingham Greens Homeowners Association filed suit against the city, developer Wolff Enterprises and Badger Mountain Village Investments in early October.
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The homeowners seek to overturn a city decision that allowed the developer to re-purpose a planned senior housing complex on 30 acres as $1,100-per-month apartments on 15 acres.
Nearby homeowners have argued the change increases the density and will add traffic to the neighborhood, drive down property values, overburden schools and could attract crime if apartments are rented to low-income or government-subsidized tenants.
The homeowners also are upset that city staff approved the change without a public hearing or city council action.
Deputy City Manager Bill King said the city believes it correctly followed its processes and will await a court decision.
"The city is just trying to do the right thing here, and we've got some concerns from the neighborhood and concerns from the developer," King said. "Whatever comes out of that is what we're going to do. We're looking to the courts to come up with a speedy resolution."