KENNEWICK — Kennewick developer Jose Chavallo is challenging the Kennewick Irrigation District's decision to deny irrigation water for his proposed Citadel Estates housing project.
Chavallo's attorney, Lawrence A. Costich of Seattle, has written to the KID board that its April 19 decision to rescind water rights for the residential project on Thompson Hill was a loss of a property right "without a reasonable opportunity for (Jose and Tammy) Chavallo to challenge the action."
KID board members based their decision on a geotechnical analysis that concluded that adding irrigation water to the hillside where Chavallo proposed 28 homes could cause the slope to break away, sending debris into a KID canal and threatening homes north of the canal near the Creekstone subdivision.
Costich's letter also took issue with the board meeting in a closed-door session April 19 to discuss concerns about providing water to the Citadel Estates project. The board voted afterward to take away Chavallo's irrigation water right.
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"No notice had been provided to the Chavallos that the water allocation would be discussed, and Mr. Chavallo had to learn of the decision from a newspaper reporter seeking comment," Costich's letter said.
Chavallo's challenge caught the KID board by surprise. The board members were poised at their Tuesday meeting to formally vote to remove Chavallo's property on the south side of Thompson Hill and west of the Panoramic Heights subdivision from the district's assessment roll.
But Costich's letter prompted board president David McKenzie to announce that action involving Chavallo's property would be put off until the May 17 board meeting.
The board also met in an executive session Tuesday to discuss the Costich letter, then reconvened in public session to decide what should be done.
"Mr. Chavallo asks to be heard," McKenzie said. "We can do nothing, or we can rescind the April 19 action, or let things stand and let him be heard at our next board meeting."
Board member John Jaksch said that he was willing to hear Chavallo's argument about why KID should let him have irrigation water.
"If he can show we erred, I'd be willing to (reconsider)," he said.
Director Kirk Rathbun agreed that the board should consider whatever information Chavallo wishes to share.
The board agreed to let Chavallo appear at its May 17 meeting to explain why he felt the decision to deny his application for water was wrong.
The Citadel Estates project also faces another hurdle this month. A Kennewick hearing examiner is expected to rule May 12 on issues involving construction on the slope, potential traffic congestion and the use of retaining walls to make the property more buildable.
Kennewick city staff has recommend approval, but several neighboring property owners in Panoramic Heights have objected to Chavallo's project.
-- John Trumbo: 509-582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org