Residents against Hawkins development move forward with lawsuit

PULLMAN, WA - The group of Whitman County residents that filed a lawsuit against the county over the Hawkins Development recently made a motion for summary judgment.

The Organization to Void Illegal Conduct, or OVIC, filed the lawsuit in January 2012 after the county amended the Hawkins agreement to contribute $6 million more than the original amount of $9.1 million. OVIC's attorney, Timothy Esser, said that he wanted to wait until Whitman County's two new commissioners took office to move forward with the suit.

"You know, they made it pretty public when they were campaigning to get elected that they were opposed to this project," said Esser. "So now we're going to find out if they really are opposed to it because I'm hoping that the county will join in my motion."

The original Hawkins Agreement was created in May of 2008, and the commissioners signed the amendment to contribute additional money on January 3rd, 2012. OVIC hired Esser after the the amendment was signed because the commissioners wouldn't accept public comments at that meeting. Esser said that after investigating the legality of the agreement, he believes there was a violation of the Open Public Meetings Act. He also found that the Hawkins company isn't a registered contractor, which is required in the state of Washington. Esser said that it would be easy for them to register, but it could be a way for the county to get out of the agreement now that the commissioners who originally supported it are out of office.

Whitman County Prosecutor Dennis Tracy would not comment on the suit since the litigation is still pending.