A Benton County (Wash.) Superior Court judge may decide next week that the owner of Columbia Park Golf Course has no grounds to pursue damages against Kennewick for reneging on a proposal to build an RV park in the riverfront park.
Judge Robert Swisher heard arguments Friday (April 17) from attorneys for Gary Long, the golf course owner, and the city. They disagree about the meaning of an agreement that called for removal of the driving range so an RV park could be built next to the golf course with a new clubhouse complex, according to The News Tribune, Tacoma, Wash.
Long’s attorney, Nicholas Kovarik of Spokane, said city officials approved his client’s proposed development in the summer of 2005. Long applied for a shoreline permit from the Army Corps of Engineers and the city did not object, he said.
“(Long) has a vested right to build the project,” Kovarik said, noting that Kennewick officials did not deal with fairness and good faith.
But the city’s attorney, Michael Tierney, claimed the city council’s actions were not good enough. The long-standing lease between Long and the city requires the lease to be renegotiated when conditions change and that includes removing the driving range.
Having a development agreement accepted by the city does not mean the requirement to renegotiate the lease can be ignored, Tierney said.
“It’s an integrated agreement. The lease had to be renegotiated,” he said.
The deal fell apart when city officials and the council decided there was too much public opposition to building an RV park, so nothing happened on renegotiating the lease.
Long also claims in his lawsuit that the city violated the agreement that the Columbia Park Golf Course had an exclusive right to develop the RV park. Kovarik said the city went behind Long’s back in opening discussions with the another developer about building amenities in Columbia Park that included an RV park.
But Tierney said the court finds that renegotiating the lease wasn’t done as required and Long’s claim of exclusive right to develop an RV park will become moot.
Swisher said he must review hundreds of pages of documents before deciding on the city’s request that there is no reason to go to a jury trial.