Issaquah quarry site is considered for homes, businesses
November 8, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
The hillside quarry below the Issaquah Highlands, plus land adjacent to the highlands, could someday transform into businesses and homes, if the city and landowner approve a long-term agreement to redevelop the site.
The landowner and quarry operator, Lakeside Industries Inc., proposed a development agreement for the 80-acre site.
The site — a quarry, a hillside and land on the plateau adjacent to the highlands — is zoned for mineral resources. The agreement under consideration could change the zoning to urban village — the same zoning for the highlands and Talus.
“We envision redevelopment that follows the patterns we are seeing in the highlands,” Lakeside Industries CEO Tim Lee said in a letter to City Administrator Bob Harrison. “Specifically, we foresee mixed uses and moderate density in a walkable community.”
City Council members sent the proposal to a committee Nov. 7 for further discussion.
The land under consideration includes a fenced-off pond north of the YWCA Family Village at Issaquah just outside the highlands.
In return for allowing Lakeside Industries to develop the land, the city could receive funds for transportation and other infrastructure from the developer.
The city Comprehensive Plan — a blueprint for long-term growth — calls for mineral resource land to be transformed for “adequate reclamation and enhancement of the site” after the resource-related work concludes.
Officials said the long-term agreement could ensure the land is developed in a manner beneficial to the community and Issaquah-based Lakeside Industries. The city announced the proposal Nov. 4.
Lakeside also agreed to pay for the city’s administration costs for creating a development agreement. The council referred the measure to the Council Land & Shore Committee.
If officials decide to draft the development agreement after receiving input from the public, the measure could reach the council for a decision in December 2012.
Mayor Ava Frisinger said the plan could offer a coherent plan for the Lakeside Industries land, because the city lacked a long-term plan for the 80-acre site in the decades ahead.
Issaquah absorbed the quarry and a large portion of land involved in the proposal in the 2000 North Issaquah annexation.
The city could also use the land for a transfer of development rights receiving site. Under such a transfer, a landowner sells development rights from land in low-density areas to parties interested in building denser development in another area.
Keith Niven, city Major Development Review Team program manager, said the proposal offers a clear plan for the Lakeside Industries land.
“We’re taking a piece of property that was used as a gravel-extraction area and we’re allowing it to be reused for development, which seems like it’s putting it to a valuable use,” he said.
In order to ensure construction on the Lakeside Industries land and existing structures in the highlands mesh, Niven said proposed buildings could go before the Issaquah Highlands Community Association Architectural Review Committee.
“It’s adding potential new development to an area that can be served by existing infrastructure improvements, if built,” he added.
The proposal is the latest development agreement to go before city leaders.
The city and Issaquah developer Rowley Properties continue to assemble a separate development for about 80 acres in the business district.
Frisinger said the impending agreements indicate entrepreneurs’ confidence in doing business in Issaquah.
“They are, all of them, looking at the ability to develop or to redevelop as the economy allows them,” she said. “They want to be able to have an agreement so that they know what the processes are and can then move forward in a nimble fashion as recovery picks up, rather than saying, ‘Let’s wait until the recovery happens and then design something or work out a process for you to step through.’”
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.