JZ Knight filed a petition Monday, July 19, 2010 seeking Washington Supreme Court review of a Court of Appeal’s decision issued on April 13, 2010. Knight filed a land use appeal in Thurston County Superior Court in March of 2008, challenging the City of Yelm’s approval of five preliminary plats totaling 568 new residences.
Knight’s appeal claimed that the City failed to show adequate water availability for the 568 new lots as required by state law and Yelm City Code and presented evidence that the City was exceeding its water rights. Judge Chris Wickham ruled in Knight’s favor, reversed the City’s approval of the five plats, and remanded the plats to the City for further processing under a corrected condition of approval. He based his ruling on a determination that the City’s previous approval of the five plats was based on “an erroneous interpretation of the law” regarding water availability.
The City and one of the developers appealed Judge Wickham’s Superior Court decision to the Court of Appeals, which ruled on April 13, 2010, that Knight did not have legal standing to pursue the land use appeal. The Court of Appeals also awarded attorney fees against Knight for the costs of the City’s and developer’s appeal to the Court of Appeals.
Knight’s petition for review asks Washington Supreme Court to reverse the Court of Appeals decision – on both the legal standing and award of attorney fees issues. Knight’s petition asserts that the award of attorney fees is contrary to a state law that prohibits an award of fees against a party such as Knight who prevailed on all issues litigated in superior court and did not file an appeal to the Court of Appeals.
Knight’s petition states that the Court of Appeals decision is contrary to well-established Washington law. Knight contends that the Court of Appeals decision must be reversed because it undermines important requirements regarding available water supplies that state law requires cities and developers to address prior to approval of development projects.