Prepare for detours amid Costco gas station expansion

June 19, 2012

Motorists should expect lane restrictions and detours near Costco in the months ahead, as the Issaquah-based warehouse giant expands the gas station at the flagship warehouse.

The changes should occur along Lake Drive and 10th Avenue throughout the summer.

In addition, the sidewalk along the north side of Lake Drive should be temporarily closed for most of June and some of July.

Crews plan to post detour signs to guide pedestrians.

Several months ago, city planners approved Costco’s application to add two fueling islands to the gas station, and to expand the parking area adjacent to the warehouse for a net increase of 101 parking spaces, including upgraded handicapped parking stalls.

Plans call for about one-fourth of existing wetland to be filled for the parking lot. Costco plans to mitigate for the impact by creating about 2.2 acres of wetland and 2.8 acres of wetland buffer on land east of Pickering Place and Issaquah Creek.

The gas station expansion is adjacent to the intersection of 10th Avenue and Lake Drive. The parking area expansion is located along Lake Drive east of 11th Avenue.

City Council approves $1 million adjustment in municipal budget

June 12, 2012

The latest step in a broad reorganization of City Hall included a $1 million drop in the municipal budget, as the City Council redirected spending after a round of employee layoffs in some departments and hires elsewhere.

The midyear budget reflected a change in strategy at City Hall, as officials retool functions to reflect recommendations in a study conducted last year by a Seattle consultant.

Officials already bundled municipal departments into a Development Services Department — a super-agency meant to streamline planning and building functions — and rolled out a more muscular effort to attract and retain businesses.

The budget adjustment approved by the council May 21 shifted dollars among city accounts to achieve the decrease. The legislation is meant to address the changes in the city spending plan since the council adopted the original 2012 budget in December.

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Residents can peruse Issaquah city budget online

April 24, 2012

Citizens can dig deep into the 2012 municipal budget.

Officials posted the budget online April 9. Read it at www.ci.issaquah.wa.us/Page.asp?NavID=2761.

The budget is the fruition of a long process to establish priorities.

In October, Mayor Ava Frisinger sent to the City Council a $32 million general fund budget — dollars to fund police and fire services, community development and planning, parks and recreation, and municipal government.

Then, per standard procedure, council members adjusted the budget to add projects and shift spending to other priorities. Overall, council members’ changes amounted to $4.1 million.

The total city budget — including dollars for capital expenses and from other accounts — is $85.7 million.

The council is expected to approve a series of adjustments to the budget to implement a reorganization of City Hall departments and functions.

Through February, leaders reduced the Planning and Public Works Engineering workforces through layoffs and a severance program. Officials also left vacant positions unfilled.

City combines planning, building functions to speed up permitting

April 3, 2012

Step is latest in big City Hall reshuffle

The reorganization of City Hall entered a more intense phase March 27, as officials announced a plan to bundle municipal departments into a Development Services Department — a super-agency meant to streamline planning and building functions.

The change is accompanied by a more muscular effort to attract and retain businesses. Leaders said the Development Services Department is meant to smooth the process to apply for a permit to construct a project or open a business in Issaquah.

The centerpiece is a plan to offer applicants the option to pay additional fees to expedite the evaluation a project receives. The setup is akin to Disney’s Fastpass. Only, rather than theme park guests standing in line for shorter stretches, permit applicants choose a speedier permitting process.

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City combines planning, building functions to speed up permitting

March 28, 2012

NEW — 5:30 p.m. March 28, 2012

The reorganization of City Hall entered a more intense phase Tuesday, as officials announced a plan to bundle municipal departments into a Development Services Department — a super-agency meant to streamline planning and building functions.

Bob Harrison

The change is accompanied by a more muscular effort to attract and retain businesses. Leaders said the Development Services Department is meant to smooth the process apply for a permit to construct a project or open a business in Issaquah.

The centerpiece is a plan to offer applicants the option to pay additional fees to expedite the evaluation a project receives. The setup is akin to Disney’s Fastpass. Only, rather than theme park guests standing in line for shorter stretches, permit applicants choose a speedier permitting process.

City Administrator Bob Harrison said frequent questions from permit applicants influenced the project.

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Businesses earn reprieve from city fee until March 2013

February 21, 2012

City leaders offered entrepreneurs a reprieve from a fee for another year, as officials attempt to entice businesses to relocate to or remain in Issaquah.

In a unanimous decision, City Council members agreed to exempt businesses from paying the transportation impact fee until March 2013. The exemption applies to the initial 10,000 square feet of floor area per project.

The council action continues a project initiated in 2009 to roll back the transportation impact fee and encourage entrepreneurs to consider Issaquah. In 2009, officials earmarked $1.58 million — money left over from the canceled Southeast Bypass — to offset the fee. City planners said $976,589 remains available for businesses.

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Ordinance faces test as marijuana collective applies for license

January 24, 2012

In the initial test for a landmark medical marijuana ordinance enacted last month, a patient-run collective at the center of discussions about changes to city rules applied for licenses to operate.

The application from the nonprofit medical marijuana operation, GreenLink Collective, came after planners, officials and residents crafted a medical marijuana ordinance designed to balance public safety concerns and patients’ access to the drug.

GreenLink organizers applied to occupy units E, F and G in a commercial building at 160 N.W. Gilman Blvd. The organization does not intend to grow marijuana in the space. GreenLink founders Jake and Lydia George applied for the license on behalf of the organization Dec. 19, the day the ordinance took effect.

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Planners approve AT&T antenna in Forest Rim neighborhood

October 25, 2011

City planners granted AT&T permission late last month to install a panel antenna on a Squak Mountain telecommunications pole.

The telecommunications giant requested approval to install the antenna and ground equipment on the existing wood pole on a city-owned parcel at 2285 Squak Mountain Loop in the Forest Rim neighborhood atop Squak Mountain. The pole stands 95 feet tall and is adjacent to a city-owned and operated water tank.

Planners approved the request Sept. 26.

City to host medical marijuana hearing Oct. 13

October 11, 2011

Citizens can offer input about a proposed ordinance to address medical marijuana collective gardens.

The municipal Planning Policy Commission is hosting a public hearing on the proposed ordinance Oct. 13. The commission meets at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at City Hall South, 135 E. Sunset Way.

Commissioners heard from medical marijuana advocates, city planners, Police Chief Paul Ayers and others at a Sept. 8 meeting about the proposal.

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City seeks comments on possible impacts to environment

September 20, 2011

Citizens can offer input on a plan to transform Issaquah’s business district in the decades ahead.

Longtime Issaquah developer Rowley Properties is proposing a long-term plan to redevelop about 80 acres along Northwest Gilman Boulevard and state Route 900 from a commercial and light-industrial district into a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented neighborhood.

The municipal Planning Department issued a draft environmental impact statement late last month for the plan to redevelop Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center. The draft statement illustrates possible impacts on storm water, traffic, views and more.

Citizens can read the statement at www.ci.issaquah.wa.us/planning and then submit written comments on the document to city Environmental Planner Peter Rosen at peterr@ci.issaquah.wa.us until 5 p.m. Sept. 29. Or, citizens can mail comments to Rosen at the Issaquah Planning Department, P.O. Box 1307, Issaquah, WA 98207.

Then, using comments from the public, planners prepare a final environmental impact statement for the City Council. The council then uses the statement to make a decision on the proposed development agreement between the city and Rowley Properties.

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