Proposed Cougar Mountain subdivision comes under review
May 29, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
Talus residents questioned plans to build 24 homes on a steep Cougar Mountain hillside downhill from the neighborhood, as the City Council considers a pact to allow the project to proceed.
A Kirkland developer applied to build the homes on a half-dozen acres near the Talus urban village, south of Northwest James Bush Road and uphill from state Route 900. The location raised concerns among some Talus residents about possible impacts to street parking and increased landslide risk.
The council scheduled a public hearing for June 4 to collect input on the proposed subdivision, Forest Heights, as members consider a development agreement to allow the project to continue.
The council is not expected to reach a decision after the public hearing. The proposed development agreement could reach the council for action in early July.
Plans call for 24 single-family homes on the 13.9-acre site. The proposal leaves most land in the proposed subdivision undeveloped, in a nod to the steep landscape, although some land is marked for future development.
“It’s clustered housing, so that means the lots are smaller and tight,” said Jerry Lind, the city senior planner assigned to the project. “They’re just about the same as the Talus neighborhood” in terms of density.
The proposed agreement between the city and developer calls for the homes in the Forest Heights neighborhood to resemble the residences in Talus — “big houses, small lots,” Lind added. The narrow streets in the proposed neighborhood do not include enough room for street parking.
The plan sets aside land for open space to protect native plants and for stormwater detention.
The road access to the neighborhood is proposed for existing streets in Talus. Forest Heights is meant to link from the upper portion of James Bush Road to Big Tree Drive Northwest in Talus.
James Bush Road is gated and limited to emergency vehicle access. Plans call for the restrictions to change if Forest Heights construction proceeds.
City officials held a public hearing before the hearing examiner in late March. (The hearing examiner is a municipal official responsible for certain development-related decisions.)
The hearing examiner asked for the developer to build a temporary walkway from Talus downhill along James Bush Road during the Forest Heights construction.
“There are concerns that the neighbors had in Talus that once Forest Heights is under construction and if construction vehicles are using James Bush Road, the neighbors and the hearing examiner thought there should still be a safe way for pedestrians to still walk to the bottom of the hill,” Lind said.
The hearing examiner called for Forest Heights to offer support to maintain the parks and trails system in neighboring Talus. Lind said the developer is open to the possibility.
“I know Talus residents, some of them felt that Forest Heights would be using their open space but not contributing to the maintenance,” Lind said. “That’s something that should be worked out.”
If the project is approved, the developer must apply for permits before construction could start. Lind said crews could break ground next year.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.