February 8, 2013
NEW — 12:05 p.m. Feb. 8, 2013
High on Squak Mountain, pink plastic strips tied to trees mark 216 acres of forest as a timber harvest area.
Since a timber company purchased the forest and started the process to permit logging on the site, conservationists and nearby residents mobilized to fight the proposal to clear cut the land. The logging opponents said cutting trees on the land could lead to more flooding downhill, damage sensitive fish and wildlife habitat, and add a timber harvest site near conservation lands.
The proposal from Eatonville-based Erickson Logging to harvest timber on 216 acres on the mountainside above Renton-Issaquah Road Southeast galvanized residents on Squak Mountain and near May Creek, a destination for runoff from the mountain.
December 25, 2012
The gravel quarry carved into the hillside below the Issaquah Highlands is poised to transform into businesses and homes in the next 30 years, after the City Council approved a landmark development agreement to reshape the area.
The landowner and quarry operator, Issaquah-based Lakeside Industries Inc., proposed the pact last year for about 120 acres on both sides of Highlands Drive Northeast. The council approved the development agreement Dec. 17, despite concerns about building height, traffic congestion and contamination in the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer, a key drinking water source for the city.
“There was a lot of push and pull, a lot of compromise, and I think it’s an agreement that both is good for my family and is also good for the city of Issaquah, and that we will live to see a development on this site that enhances the city,” Lakeside Industries CEO Tim Lee said before the unanimous council decision.
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.
December 11, 2012
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.
October 30, 2012
Tiger Mountain is a destination for hikers, mountain bikers and loggers, and the official responsible for acting as a referee to balance the competing interests is the state commissioner of public lands.
Republican Clint Didier is challenging the incumbent, Democrat Peter Goldmark, to serve as the top natural resources official in Washington.
The commissioner of public lands leads the state Department of Natural Resources, and oversees about 3 million acres of forests, agricultural land and other properties, as well as about 2.6 million acres of shorelines, tidelands, lakes and rivers.
The position carries outsized influence in the Issaquah area. The agency is often a factor in local policymaking, due to the connections among the Department of Natural Resources, Issaquah City Hall and outdoor recreation groups.
October 9, 2012
NEW — 11:50 a.m. Oct. 9, 2012
City leaders put out a call last month for Sustainable Community Award nominees.
The honor is divided into categories for the Ruth Kees Environmental Award for a Sustainable Community and the Sustainable Community Award.
The honor named for Kees is the highest environmental award in Issaquah, and the Sustainable Community Award recognizes significant achievements and positive results of individuals.
Past Kees honorees include late City Council President Maureen McCarry, late Mountains to Sound Greenway pioneer Ted Thomsen and Issaquah Alps Trails Club President David Kappler, a former councilman.
August 28, 2012
Concerns about safety and traffic led downtown Issaquah residents to join forces to stop the city from approving a permit for a home-based firearms business.
The municipal Development Services Department is considering a proposal from Michael Marinos, a longtime Issaquah resident, to open the business in the Olde Town neighborhood south of East Sunset Way.
Marinos created Bigg Dogg Firearms to offer federally licensed firearms transfers to customers purchasing weapons online. Customers could then stop at Marinos’ home-based business to pick up the firearms.
May 1, 2012
City Council members agreed April 16 to sell land to homebuilder Polygon Homes, despite objections from local environmentalists.
The city earned $80,000 in the land sale — dollars earmarked for landscaping in Central Park and elsewhere, wetland programs and Park Pointe conservation.
The property is 14,693 square feet, or about the size of the Issaquah Library, in the Issaquah Highlands’ Forest Ridge subdivision. Polygon intends to use the land for residences.
The property is included in the complicated Park Pointe transfer of development rights. In exchange for preserving a forested Tiger Mountain site near Issaquah High School, officials agreed to open additional highlands land to development. The long process ended in March 2011.
Despite the conditions council members added to the agreement, leaders in the environmental community protested the decision.
David Kappler, Issaquah Alps Trails Club president and a former councilman, and Janet Wall, a longtime local environmentalist, urged the council to reconsider. Kappler raised safety concerns about a trail leading to the property.
The council approved the sale in a 5-1 decision. Councilman Paul Winterstein dissented. Councilman Joshua Schaer did not attend the meeting.
April 17, 2012
Despite its adventurous name, the Issaquah Alps Trails Club looks more like your local Lions Club.
“Most of the club members are getting pretty long in the tooth,” said board member George Potter, 63. “The average age of our board is almost 70.”
The graying of this grass roots hiking-and-environmental advocacy group has spawned a new goal: to get younger, edgier and hipper, if only for its very survival.
January 17, 2012
City Council members chose Tola Marts to lead the board in the coming year, as the council reorganizes City Hall and delves into a long-term plan to redevelop the business district.
In unanimous decisions Jan. 3, council members elected Marts to the top spot on the board — council president — and longtime member Fred Butler to serve in the No. 2 position.
The council president leads the legislative branch of city government. The responsibilities for the role include running semimonthly council meetings and monthly Committee-of-the-Whole Council meetings, handling committee assignments and representing the city if Mayor Ava Frisinger is absent.
Marts joined the council in January 2010 and succeeded longtime Councilman David Kappler. Butler joined the council a dozen years ago.
The shift represents the only change in council leadership since 2009, after former Councilman John Traeger succeeded then-Council President Maureen McCarry in the top spot. (Both officials have since left the council.)