Lakeside Industries development pact could transform quarry site
December 11, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
The gravel quarry on a hillside below the Issaquah Highlands, plus land adjacent to the highlands, could someday transform into businesses and homes, if city leaders approve a long-term agreement to redevelop the site.
The landowner and quarry operator, Issaquah-based Lakeside Industries Inc., proposed a 30-year development agreement last year for about 120 acres on both sides of Highlands Drive Northeast. The proposed pact is scheduled to reach the City Council on Dec. 17, as officials consider a plan to remake the area.
The land under consideration is zoned for mineral resources and single-family residences. The development agreement could change the designation on some areas to urban village, the same rules used for the highlands and Talus.
The city blueprint for long-term growth, or Comprehensive Plan, calls for mineral resource land to undergo “adequate reclamation and enhancement of the site” once quarrying or mining activities conclude.
City Council regular meeting
Officials said the long-term agreement could ensure the land is developed in a manner beneficial to the community and Lakeside Industries.
“Someday, we’re going to be done mining there, and we think it’s going to happen within the next 30 years,” Lakeside Industries CEO Tim said. “The last thing I wanted to do was work for the next 20 years and end up with something that the city didn’t like.”
The area farthest from the Issaquah Highlands and closest to Interstate 90 is expected to continue as industrial land for the foreseeable future, but construction could start on land near the highlands as early as next year.
“If there’s a gravel pit that can deliver us aggregate rather than us manufacture aggregate for less money than what we can mine for, we’ll stop mining sooner than later,” Lee said. “If it continues to be economically feasible to mine there, that’s what we’ll do.”
Lakeside Industries outlined plans to transform the hillside into homes once mining is done and restoration is complete.
“The big scar is going to disappear,” city Economic Development Director Keith Niven said. “We’re aiming for Italian hillside, and we’ll see how far we can get. The idea is there will actually be cascading homes coming down the hillside.”
Lakeside Industries agreed to pay the city $5 million to fund infrastructure, environmental projects, affordable housing and more.
Neighbors raise height concerns
Construction could start next year on homes at the Severed Pit site adjacent to the Issaquah Highlands.
Severed Pit, so named because Highlands Drive Northeast split the property from other Lakeside Industries land, sits kitty-corner from the Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride.
The proposed pact allows buildings up to 84 feet tall on the site. Homeowners near Severed Pit said a change could alter the surrounding neighborhoods.
“We have a lot of concerns about the height of the buildings. We look out into the green area and, for me, I’m not opposed to more development,” Jamie Fenderson, a 10th Avenue Northeast resident, told the Urban Village Development Commission on Nov. 7. “I just want to be sure that, you know, the height considerations and how that affects our views is taken into account.”
Melinda Person, a homeowner along Southeast 59th Street adjacent to the site, said the pit is a blemish on the landscape, but raised questions about possible noise and light pollution from the proposed development on the site.
“It’s been a mosquito-growing mess in the pit for a long time, and it’s nice to see it get developed,” she said.
Moreover, she said the buildings proposed for the Lakeside Industries land could obstruct views of Cougar and Tiger mountains.
“The development of this property was always a foregone conclusion. We knew at some point it would get filled and there would be some kind of a development there,” she told the Urban Village Development Commission. “However, we think it would be really irresponsible of the city to allow the most dense zoning adjacent to what has always been rural.”
The proposed Lakeside Industries development agreement did not generate the same public outcry as the process to craft the Central Issaquah Plan — a guide redevelopment in the business district along the interstate. The council is scheduled to consider the plan the same night as the development agreement.
Former Councilman David Kappler, Issaquah Alps Trails Club president and a Central Issaquah Plan critic, said the Lakeside Industries development agreement could ultimately improve the environment.
“I’ve been supportive generally of the 30-year concept there, because I think they can reduce trucking and save energy if they know what they’re doing over the long term,” he said.