In Applewood Estates Homeowners' Association, et al. v. City of Richland et. al, 166 Wn. App. 161, 269 P.3d 388 (Jan. 26, 2012), Division III of the Washington State Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit filed by neighbors opposing an apartment development in Richland, Washington.
In a written decision placed in the public record on June 16, 2010, the City of Richland (the "City") approved the developer's request to construct apartments on land it was contemplating purchasing within the Badger Mountain Village Planned Unit Development. In reliance on the City's approval, the developer then purchased the land, obtained building permits and began construction. In October 2010, neighbors of the development sued to stop construction, claiming they should have been given direct notice of the City's decision and provided with an opportunity to be heard on the merits of the proposed development before it was approved.
Under Washington's Land Use Petition Act ("LUPA"), legal challenges to land use decisions, such as the City's approval to construct the apartments, must be made within 21 days of the date the land use decision was made. The Court of Appeals found that the neighbors did not timely file their lawsuit, as it was initiated almost 4 months after the challenged land use decision.
Among other things, the neighbors claimed they did not know, nor did they have reason to know, of the City's approval of the proposed apartment complex until well after the 21-day time-to-file deadline had passed. Rejecting this contention, the Court of Appeals held that the neighbors "were not entitled to personal notice, distinct from the notice contemplated by the filing of the public record" by the City on June 16, 2010. For this reason, the Court of Appeals found that that neighbors' lawsuit, filed nearly four months after the City made its determination, was time barred and dismissed the case. The Court held that its decision was consistent with Washington's "strong public policy of supporting administrative finality in land use decisions."
A copy of the Court of Appeal's decision can be accessed by clicking here.