City Council appoints Joe Forkner to open seat

January 29, 2013

NEW — 6:20 p.m. Jan. 29, 2013

Joe Forkner returned to the City Council on Tuesday after a divided council appointed the former councilman, onetime city employee and longtime community leader to a vacant seat.

The council appointed a successor to former Councilman Mark Mullet after about 15 minutes of discussion.

Members nominated Forkner and longtime Development Commission member Mary Lou Pauly for the post. The council chose Forkner in a 4-2 decision.

The seat opened Jan. 8 after Mullet departed to serve in Olympia. The entrepreneur and former banking executive defeated Snoqualmie Republican Brad Toft to represent the 5th Legislative District in the state Senate.

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City Council applicants offer varied skills

January 22, 2013

Members to appoint candidate Jan. 29

The applicants for a rare open seat on the City Council include long-established community leaders — and some candidates from the last time the council accepted applications to fill a vacancy.

The seven candidates offer assorted skills in community, government and military service in the process to succeed Mark Mullet on the council.

Initially, Ken Sessler, a retired Boeing engineer and a prolific letter writer to The Issaquah Press, applied for the vacancy, but withdrew not long after the city released the applicant list.

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City OKs buildings up to 125 feet tall in business district

December 25, 2012

Redevelopment plan calls for more than 7,000 residences

City leaders raised the building height limit to 125 feet in the business district and raised the stakes for redevelopment in the decades ahead.

The roadmap to redevelopment — a document called the Central Issaquah Plan — also creates a framework to add more than 7,000 residences on about 1,000 acres stretched along Interstate 90.

In a series of decisions reached Dec. 17 after years spent re-envisioning the business district, a relieved City Council adopted the Central Issaquah Plan, but delayed action on a key piece until at least April.

“It’s the right plan at the right time,” Councilman Fred Butler said. “It will not happen overnight, but when the time is right, we will be ready.”

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Central Issaquah Plan proposes shift from suburban to urban in business district

December 11, 2012

Issaquah, circa 2040, could sport a skyline.

The central business district is on the cusp of change, as city leaders plan for redevelopment on about 1,000 acres stretched along Interstate 90.

Nowadays, suburban sprawl dominates the landscape — traffic-clogged streets unfurl next to strip malls. Residents live elsewhere and climb into cars to reach the area’s amenities. Underfoot, 75 percent of land in the area is encased under parking lots.

Imagine, instead, buildings up to 125 feet tall, storefronts and residences arranged along tree-lined sidewalks, and perhaps decades in the future, a station on the regional rail network.

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Citizens can comment on long-term plans for business district

April 17, 2012

Citizens can comment soon on a historic proposal to transform more than 900 acres near Interstate 90 and state Route 900 in the decades ahead.

The draft Central Issaquah Plan is meant to guide redevelopment from shopping centers and low-rise office buildings to a taller neighborhood meant for businesses and residences.

The city is in the midst of a key environmental study for the 915-acre business district, or Central Issaquah. The council is poised to decide on the proposal as early as July. In the meantime, the municipal Planning Policy Commission plans a public open house and public hearing on the draft environmental study April 19.

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City hosts meetings on Central Issaquah redevelopment

March 20, 2012

The long process to transform more than 900 acres in the decades ahead is due to continue in the months ahead — and residents can offer input on the far-reaching proposal.

City Council and Planning Policy Commission members plan to delve deeper into the Central Issaquah Plan — a long-term proposal to remake more than 900 acres in the business district along Interstate 90.

The next meeting related to the Central Issaquah Plan is the Committee-of-the-Whole Council on March 27.

The council, council committees and the commission plan a series of public meetings in March, April and May to discuss details proposed in the plan. In recent years, planners outlined a broad proposal to turn acres of low-rise office buildings, shopping centers and self-storage units on land near Interstate 90 and state Route 900 into pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods.

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Issaquah growth center proposal raises questions

May 3, 2011

The nascent proposal to add almost 5,000 residential units to the business district in a pedestrian- and transit-friendly hub received a skeptical reception from city planning commissioners last week.

The city is considering a proposal to add a regional growth center in a bid to attract dollars for transportation and mass transit to Issaquah. The initial plans outline such a hub in 915-acre Central Issaquah, the commercial area spread along Interstate 90 and state Route 900.

The long-term blueprint for the Puget Sound region calls for areas designated as regional growth centers. The designation helps officials plan regional transportation infrastructure and determine the best sites for economic development.

The centers also receive higher priority for state and federal funding in order to connect the regional hubs — a crucial selling point.

Still, Planning Policy Commission members raised questions about a proposal to create a regional growth center and add up to 4,650 residential units in a dense neighborhood.

“I think the biggest question is, do we want to do this?” Commissioner Joan Probala asked during the April 28 meeting. “Because when we decide that we want to do it, you’re looking at changing the rest of the areas to some extent, and you’re going to encourage building to happen there” in the targeted area.

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City Council candidates offer varied skills for post

February 15, 2011

Interviews start March 1 for nine council contenders

Candidates offer assorted skills for the open City Council seat created after Maureen McCarry resigned in late December.

The candidates bring backgrounds in community, military and municipal service to the interview process.

The midterm opening for the Position 5 seat attracted nine candidates.

Candidates face the council in public interviews scheduled for March 1. Then, after the 10-minute interviews, council members could recess into a closed-door executive session to discuss candidates’ qualifications.

Under state law, the council can discuss candidates’ qualifications in a closed-door session, but interviews and the decision must occur in public meetings.

The vote to appoint a member to the council is scheduled for March 7, though the appointee might not join the council until later in the month. The salary for council members is $700 per month.

McCarry created the vacancy late last year after she resigned to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

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Mayor predicts ‘momentous year’ in State of the City speech

February 15, 2011

City is poised to complete long-term projects in coming months

Mayor Ava Frisinger offered a bold prediction for the year in the State of the City address last week.

“2011 will undoubtedly be a momentous year for Issaquah — one that will not only reinforce the importance of our day-to-day business, but will also celebrate our larger accomplishments,” she said during the Feb. 7 address.

The can-do speech highlighted projects scheduled for completion in the months ahead, including the city-coordinated zHome townhouses and a landmark effort to outline redevelopment in the 915-acre business district.

“2010 sets high expectations for this year, and I am confident that we can meet them,” Frisinger said. “Our list of goals for 2011 is extremely impressive and yet very feasible.”

The annual address — like the spring City Council goal-setting session and the autumn budget announcement — helps city leaders outline priorities for the public.

Frisinger used the speech to shine a spotlight on long-term efforts on track to mark milestones.

The city is poised to complete the long-running effort to preserve forested Park Pointe on Tiger Mountain soon.

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Delve into long-term plan for business district at open house

December 7, 2010

Rowley Properties proposal encompasses almost 90 acres

Rowley Properties and city planners embarked on a bold effort in April to shape growth in the decades ahead near Interstate 90 and state Route 900.

Now, the city and the longtime Issaquah developer seek opinions from residents about the potential impacts redevelopment could cause to traffic, mountain views and the environment. Planners scheduled a Dec. 15 open house to gather input from residents.

Participants can listen to presentations from the Community Advisory Group, the citizen panel appointed to shape the process. Organizers also plan to present information about possible environmental impact studies for redevelopment on the site.

Beyond the open house, residents can also provide input later, as the project progresses through policy discussions and environmental studies.

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