W. Richland backs off growth toward Red Mountain

WEST RICHLAND -- Pressure from a state board has convinced West Richland officials to quit trying to expand the urban growth area toward Interstate 82 and potential development for Red Mountain.

A request to add 545 acres on the city's southwest side was appealed to the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board, which on Sept. 24 concluded that the proposal did not comply with the Washington Growth Management Act and Benton County's Comprehensive Plan.

The Benton County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. tonight in Prosser to consider recommending the process end without adding to West Richland's urban growth area.

"This is a closer to the process that began in 2007," said Ruth Swain, West Richland's economic development director.

That's when West Richland officials started their quest to push urban growth toward Kennedy Road and I-82 so the city could position itself for growth associated with winery development on Red Mountain and possible construction of a new interchange that would serve the Red Mountain district.

But the city's initial request to add 700 acres into the urban growth area triggered an appeal to the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board, which said the request did not comply with the state's act or the county's comprehensive plan.

County officials reviewed the issue and the city revised its request to 545 acres, which also failed to win approval from the growth management hearings board.

Tonight's hearing before the planning commission is a formality to bring closure, as required by state law, said Susan Walker, a senior planner with the county.

"(West Richland's officials) have decided not to go forward," she said. The county must conduct the public hearing because the city's request involved a revision to the county's comprehensive plan, she explained.

The meeting will be at the county's annex hearing room, 1002 Dudley Ave., in Prosser.

* John Trumbo: 509-582-1529; jtrumbo@tricityherald.com