City panel works to finish development plan by September

March 2, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

A task force should unveil a package by September with elements — like revised development and design standards, and a streamlined review process — for developers who want to build in the commercial heart of the city, 915 acres along Interstate 90.

A 12-member task force has worked since fall to map the future of the Central Issaquah Plan, a document that will outline growth and redevelopment in the area.

Joe Forkner serves as the task force chairman. The former councilman said the group could adjust priorities in order to meet the deadline set by Mayor Ava Frisinger. The task force should deliver a plan to the city Planning Policy Commission by September.

“We’re anticipating to meet the September deadline. However, it’s going to depend on a lot of things,” Forkner said. “We’ve kind of come to the conclusion that we may have to give up some of the detail to really meet that.”

The panel could determine how land in the designated area should be used, and then task the Planning Policy Commission with determining the finer details.

“We don’t want to slow the process down, because we understand how important it is” to complete the effort, Forkner said.

Sajal Sahay, a member of the task force and the Planning Policy Commission, said the effort aimed to outline how redevelopment should unfold.

“The intent here isn’t to try to do it all at once. That would be too gargantuan and probably too difficult to accomplish,” he said.

Planners hope the council will review the plan by mid to late 2011. The city aims to implement the plan by 2012.

The effort received funding through 2010; additional dollars for the project will be handled as officials write budgets for upcoming years.

Planners started community outreach for the effort in July 2007, and held further community meetings during the next year. Officials then toured sections of Bellevue and Mercer Island for ideas about how other communities redeveloped.

“Typically, as we work through a public process such as this, a lot of the issues and concerns have been addressed,” city Planning Director Mark Hinthorne said. “There’s never 100 percent consensus on a project such as this, but hopefully we’ve reached a consensus within the community for the future of Central Issaquah.”

The planning director and task force members outlined the effort to City Council members during a Feb. 23 Committee-of-the-Whole Council meeting.

Councilman Fred Butler asked if the city planned to conduct environmental studies for the entire area or in smaller pieces.

“We’ll probably have a better idea of that after the task force has completed their work and the administration and the council have taken a look at that,” Hinthorne said.

The initial redevelopment could occur on almost 90 acres near state Route 900 and the interstate. Rowley Properties and the city plan to take steps to partner in order to redevelop existing strip malls into a town center connected by pedestrian walkways and mass transit.

A proposed redevelopment pact seeks to help the city and developer plan a “well-defined gateway” into Issaquah, help attract new business, combine public and private resources, increase housing and transportation, and improve storm water management.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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