Brad Anderson and Phil Lemley were the two members of the Richland City Council this week to support a 44-unit condominium project in south Richland.
"The facts were on the side of the developer," said Lemley, who said he is worried the city may be sued by TMT Homes after rejecting the zoning change needed for the planned unit development in the Meadow Hills Drive neighborhood.
Lemley said the hillside is destined for development and that residents who don't want condominiums as neighbors should consider the alternative.
"Which is more ugly, 44 condominiums or 36 homes scattered across that hillside?" he said.
Anderson said he chose not to back the council's decision -- a 4-2 vote -- on the rezoning because he wasn't "comfortable" with the reasoning to reject the project.
"It was too open-ended, and I don't think we have a good enough reason to reject the zoning request," Anderson said.
About 60 residents of neighborhoods surrounding the condo project attended Tuesday's council meeting to show their concern about having a hillside developed with four multi-story buildings, each with 11 condo units of 3,150 to 5,600 square feet in size.
"It was a very emotional issue, and our job is to remove the emotion," Lemley said.
"The rules do allow something like that on the hillside. These people ought to expect that something like that might go out there," he added.
Project architect Terence Thornhill did not return a phone call from the Herald on Thursday.
Anderson said the public opposition seemed to be based on personal preferences, "one person's view," he said.
Anderson said the council decision made him uncomfortable.
"Do we tell the builder 'no' just because it isn't compatible to the area?" Anderson said.
In July, the planning commission initially rejected the 44-unit proposal as a planned unit development on 10.24 acres, then voted to recommend approval if it was down-sized by about 10 units.
On Sept. 4, the city council met to consider approving the zoning change that would allow TMT to build the44-unit condos, but it deferred its decision two weeks so it could confer with the city attorney about potential legal risk associated with the decision.
The property is zoned to allow up to 36 single-family homes to be built.
-- John Trumbo: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org