City Council unanimously approves plans for Issaquah High School

February 9, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

The Issaquah City Council has unanimously approved the master site plan and site development permit for Issaquah High School.The approval means limited site work can begin and the project is one step closer to construction starting.

The Feb. 2 vote included 20 conditions on its approval. Those included storm water and erosion plans, impact fees for fire and police services and even defined what types of landscaping can be used. They also included having the building and public works permits in hand before major construction begins.

Those permits are still pending, but city officials in both departments are reviewing the applications, said Christopher Wright, a senior planner for the city.

“As far as the building permit goes, in the middle of December, the department sent out a correction letter,” he said. “We expect the school district to submit those revisions and corrections any day.”

Once the revisions come back, they will take two to three weeks to review. If there are no other revisions, district officials can have their building permit. Otherwise, another round of corrections and review will begin, Wright said.

The public works permit will likely get split in two parts, one for on-site work and one for off-site work, which would be the right of way and intersection improvements that will be done later, he said.

The on-site permit would allow district officials to begin working on the project and would likely come in around the time the building permit is approved, he said.

The back and forth of the permit reviews is not unusual, he said.

“For a project of this scale, that is not uncommon at all,” he added. “Even with single-family houses, there is often at least one round of corrections and revisions. So, you can imagine, with a high school, there is a lot to look at.”

District officials put the project out to bid Jan. 5, according to Sara Niegowski, district communications director.

Bids were initially due Feb. 12, but due to a large response, the deadline was pushed to Feb. 19. District officials expect to pick a contractor at the Feb. 25 school board meeting and hope to begin demolition work on the site as soon as possible, Niegowski said.

The rebuild includes resituating many of the existing buildings and building three three-story classroom wings, as well as a performing arts center and new gymnasium facilities. The current sports fields, except for new tennis courts, will remain in place.

The school will be 285,000 square feet — about 99,500 square feet larger — and will serve about 1,850 students in 85 classrooms. Freshmen will return to campus in fall 2010, when the new classroom wings are done. The school may still be under construction in other areas then.

Demolition and construction were slated to begin last summer but encountered several hang-ups in obtaining city approval.

Delays included a decision on what type of traffic mitigation district officials would need to pay to the city to offset new traffic to the high school, and a technical design issue with the inside corridors and commons area off of the three classroom wings.

District and city officials have met frequently to resolve problems throughout the approval process.

After discussions with city staff members, district officials agreed to help make roadway improvements to Second Avenue and Sunset Way, and the intersection of Second Avenue and Front Street. Each intersection will get new turn-only lanes to help ease congestion during peak travel times. Residential street parking at Second Avenue and East Sunset Way will be reduced to accommodate the new turn-only lanes.

In addition, improvements, like new turn-only lanes, sidewalks and crosswalks, will be made to Second Avenue directly in front of the school.

Those conditions were also listed in the council’s approval of the master site plan and site development permits.

Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment on this story at

The 20 conditions:

♦ Construction can only start after the public works and building permits are issued.

♦ District officials must pay $15,054.35 for the extra 99,000 square-feet they are creating for government and police mitigation fees; maintain 416 off-street parking spaces during construction; use low-impact development techniques, including rain gardens; and leave a portion of the existing wooded area between the new tennis courts and adjacent properties.

♦ District officials must pay $290,540 for fire and city transportation impact fees at the time of the building permit issuance.

♦ Must plant healthy and growing plants in any landscaping they are required to plant.

♦ Proposed Ash trees on the east and west sides of the building shall be replaced with two-inch caliper Hedge Maples.

♦ Any changes or substitutions to landscaping shall be approved by the planning department prior to implementation.

♦ 14 trees will be planted on the eastern fence of the new tennis courts, 50 percent of which will be evergreen trees.

♦ All trees required for preservation will have protective chain link fencing placed around them prior to and throughout construction.

♦ Provide pre- and post-development runoff volumes for storm water management

♦ Maintain current rates of surface water flow into the wetland south of the construction site.

♦ The project will submit a Hazardous Materials Inventory to Eastside Fire & Rescue for review and adhere to the city’s storm water management policy.

♦ Develop a temporary erosion and sedimentation control plan for both dry and wet seasons.

♦ Have the solid waste service and collection standards plans approved by Waste Management and the city’s Resource Conservation Office prior to the issuance of the building permit.

♦ Appropriately label all compact and accessible parking stalls

♦ Submit additional sign permits prior to installation of exterior signs

♦ Minimize glare from new tennis court lights into the adjacent Park Pointe property.

♦ Wall-mounted lights need to be placed parallel to the ground to reduce glare.

♦ Provide at least 5 bicycle parking spaces

♦ Have a transportation management plan approved by city officials before the building permit can be issued.

♦ Make roadway improvements to mitigate the project’s impact by adding a new westbound left-turn lane and a northbound right-turn lane at the intersection of Second Avenue and East Sunset Way and by adding a northbound right-turn lane and keeping both bicycle lanes at the intersection of Second Avenue and Front Street South.

Bookmark and Share
Other Stories of Interest: , , , , , , , , , ,


Got something to say?

Before you comment, please note:

  • These comments are moderated.
  • Comments should be relevant to the topic at hand and contribute to its discussion.
  • Personal attacks and/or excessive profanity will not be tolerated and such comments will not be approved.
  • This is not your personal chat room or forum, so please stay on topic.