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City of Yakima being sued for a rezone approval to build a permanent shelter

City of Yakima being sued for a rezone approval to build a permanent shelter

YAKIMA, Wash.- A permanent homeless shelter is turning into a legal battle between the City of Yakima and The Yakima Greenway Foundation.

From Union Gap to Naches, there's 20 miles of protected area along the Yakima and Naches rivers.

Last month Yakima City Council approved a rezoning plan for 2.6 acres of land across from Camp Hope near the old Kmart in Yakima.

"We are very concerned that the city has not taken into consideration the ordinances and the things that they have put in place for decades to protect the Yakima Greenway and river conservation area," said Executive Director at the Yakima Greenway, Kellie Connaughton.

Connaughton says the city violated their agreement by not following the right processes when trying to rezone an area, or address the idea to the Greenway Foundation until several months after.

"The Greenway has to be notified from the very inception of that idea, so that the things can be evaluated and planned in compatibility with what the river and conservation area has established," said Connaughton.

According to Yakima's special development standards it states "All development in the Greenway Overlay District shall conform to the requirements and standards of the underlying zoning district and the policies."

The Greenway says any changes need to in agreement and compatible with Greenway and the river corridor. These can be things like trails, parks, camping sites and other recreational areas.

"The city had been in early conversations with organizations way back as early as the first of the year in 2018 that some type of development was going to go on that property," said Connaughton.

During a planning commission meeting in August, city council members brought up how they wanted to turn that land into a permanent homeless shelter.

Connaughton argues a shelter does not fit within the special development code standards.

Action News reached out to the city, and they are not able to comment on pending lawsuits.

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