RICHLAND — A state appeals court has overturned a decision that would have forced Richland to review planned changes to a housing development on Keene Road.
Neighboring landowners in the Applewood Estates and Brantingham Greens developments previously won a court judgment saying a more detailed review was needed after the city allowed developer Wolff Enterprises to change part of its Badger Mountain Village development.
However, three appellate judges said Thursday that the neighbors failed to file their petition against the change within the required 21-day timeframe for land-use decisions.
"This 21-day statute of limitations is strict," the judges wrote in their opinion.
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Deputy City Manager Bill King said city officials still are reviewing the court ruling, though he expects Wolff to request to move forward with the development. A phone message left for Wolff was not returned.
Tony Valdez, president of the Applewood Estates Homeowners Association, said he and his neighbors are disappointed by the court's decision and will be discussing whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
"But, as you know, that takes money," he said.
Badger Mountain Village initially was planned to be a mix of apartments for seniors, an assisted-living facility and single-family homes.
Last summer, Rick Simon, development services manager for Richland, signed off on allowing Wolff to build 177 high-density apartment units with no tenant age restrictions on 15 acres within the development. Simon had said the change to the development was minor and didn't need to go to a public hearing or before the city council.
Neighboring landowners said they heard of Simon's decision Sept. 17 and protested. They filed a land use petition act, or LUPA, petition on Oct. 4. A Benton Superior Court judge ruled in their favor.
The appellate judges, however, said that because Simon made the written order for changes to the development June 16, the LUPA petition was filed too late to be considered.
"Our legislature has stated that the purpose of LUPA is 'timely judicial review,' " the judges wrote. "Pre-LUPA, Washington courts recognized that even illegal decisions must be challenged in a timely manner."