Commission will re-examine delayed highlands project
January 4, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 6 a.m. Jan. 4, 2010
City development commissioners will re-examine a proposal to build 240 residences in the Issaquah Highlands, when the panel meets Tuesday night.
The city Urban Village Development Commission postponed the project less than a month ago. Commissioners delayed the project in a bid to demand answers from highlands developer Port Blakely Communities about commercial development in the community.
A Bellevue company, Devco, proposed the residential units for 9.5 acres bordered by Northeast Discovery Drive to the north and Highlands Drive Northeast on the west. The proposal includes apartments, townhouses and stacked flats.
When the commission last met Dec. 15, commissioners delayed the decision on the permit application as a way to force a dialogue about commercial development. The city scheduled another meeting because commissioners did not deny the site development permit application.
If the commission cannot reach a decision — and approve or deny the application — the issue heads to city Hearing Examiner Ted Hunter.
The hearing examiner would read the staff report on the Devco proposal, watch the commission meetings related to the project and then make a decision.
Commissioners listened to comments from several residents Dec. 15. No public comment period is scheduled for the Tuesday meeting.
Port Blakely faced criticism in the weeks leading up to the meeting about the pace of highlands commercial development. Commissioners and residents tweaked the developer during the meeting, too.
Residents said the commercial offerings in the highlands differed from the amenities promised by Port Blakely.
Less than a week after the Urban Village Development Commission meeting, Port Blakely President Alan Boeker asked for a vote to allow a highlands gas station to be delayed. Boeker, in a letter to Mayor Ava Frisinger, said Port Blakely plans to engage highlands residents and city officials in a dialogue during the next several weeks.
“The strong merits of the energy station, however, are often overshadowed by a larger question — the timing on the successful development of a vibrant mixed use town center,” Boeker wrote.