Group urges residents to open ‘Eyes on Issaquah’

March 13, 2012

The black-and-red signs started to appear on Issaquah street corners and road medians just as city leaders prepared to delve into a long-term blueprint for growth.

Ava Frisinger

In bold letters, the signs asks passers-by, “Re-development at what cost?” and directs onlookers to a website for more information.

The campaign, called Eyes on Issaquah, is the latest effort to encourage citizen oversight as the Central Issaquah Plan advances from proposal to policy.

The organization behind the eyes is the Issaquah Environmental Council, a watchdog group, and the face behind the organization is leader Connie Marsh, a longtime citizen activist and former City Council candidate.

“It seemed important enough to try to get as many eyes as possible on it, so it would be the people’s plan, too, and not just something laid upon them by their government,” she said.

The campaign urges residents to learn more about the Central Issaquah Plan — a proposal to remake more than 900 acres in the business district along Interstate 90 in the decades ahead.

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U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert relocates district office to Issaquah

February 28, 2012

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert plans to open a district office in Issaquah after redistricting shifted the former office on Mercer Island into another district.

Dave Reichert

The GOP congressman plans to open a district office in a Southeast 56th Street office building uphill from East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast.

The relocation reflects a monumental change in the district Reichert represents. The redrawn 8th Congressional District stretches from Auburn in South King County to Wenatchee in Chelan County. The former district encompassed only communities in King and Pierce counties.

(The reshaped district goes into effect for the House of Representatives election in November.)

“We felt like Issaquah was probably the most accessible and easy to get to for both sides of the Cascades,” Reichert said in a Feb. 24 interview.

The district office employs seven staffers responsible for handling constituents’ questions related to Social Security entitlements, veterans benefits, immigration issues and more.

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City announces employee layoffs amid reorganization

February 7, 2012

Officials announced cuts to the city workforce — including six layoffs — Feb. 1, as City Hall launches a broad reorganization.

Overall, leaders reduced staff through layoffs, a severance program and vacancies. The total includes five positions eliminated through voluntary separations and two vacant positions.

Because limited funding is available for capital projects, officials did not need as many employees for engineering and inspection functions. In November, officials announced plans to start employee layoffs in February.

The city also plans to add three positions for a beefed-up economic development effort. The plan is for Keith Niven, the longtime Major Development Review Team manager, to serve as economic development director and hire economic development managers.

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In landmark decision, buildings up to 150 feet in business district OK’d

December 27, 2011

Rowley Properties could someday build tall buildings on 78 acres in the business district, as shown in the rendering above. Contributed

Rowley Properties plans to redevelop land in decades ahead

Tall buildings could someday punctuate the skyline in the modest business district along state Route 900, after city leaders created a framework Dec. 19 to transform acre upon acre blanketed in storage units, low-slung office buildings and automotive service centers into a dense neighborhood for shops and homes.

In a landmark decision, City Council members approved a 30-year agreement between the city and longtime Issaquah developer Rowley Properties to overhaul almost 80 acres in the coming decades. The council agreed to allow buildings up to 150 feet tall and mixed-use development on up to 4.4 million square feet in Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center — parcels along Interstate 90 and state Route 900.

The landowner, in turn, is required to pay for transportation upgrades, affordable housing construction, Tibbetts Creek restoration efforts and storm-water system improvements.

Leaders said the potential for change in Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center offers a rare opportunity to reshape Issaquah as the city readjusts after a decadelong population boom.

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In major development decision, city OKs buildings up to 150 feet in business district

December 22, 2011

NEW — 9:30 p.m. Dec. 22, 2011

Tall buildings could someday punctuate the skyline in the modest business district along state Route 900, after city leaders created a framework Monday to transform acre upon acre blanketed in storage units, low-slung office buildings and automotive service centers into a dense neighborhood for shops and homes.

In a landmark decision, City Council members approved a 30-year agreement between the city and longtime Issaquah developer Rowley Properties to overhaul almost 80 acres in the coming decades. The council agreed to allow buildings up to 150 feet tall and mixed-use development on up to 4.4 million square feet in Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center — parcels along Interstate 90 and state Route 900.

The landowner, in turn, is required to pay for transportation upgrades, affordable housing construction, Tibbetts Creek restoration efforts and storm-water system improvements.

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City Council candidates, unopposed in election, outline goals for future

November 29, 2011

Though most City Council seats appeared on the November ballot, voters faced a choice in a lone race — the contest between incumbent Joshua Schaer and challenger TJ Filley. (Schaer claimed a second term in a landslide.)

The other seats up for election did not attract challengers, so incumbents Fred Butler and Stacy Goodman, plus newcomer Paul Winterstein, coasted through campaign season. The next council is due to settle into office in early January.

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Environmental report arrives for Rowley Properties redevelopment

November 29, 2011

Planners released a key environmental report about a proposed Rowley Properties redevelopment Nov. 23, days after City Council members heard from citizens about the project.

Citizens can offer input on the proposed development agreement between the city and Issaquah-based Rowley Properties at public meetings in December.

The council listened to almost three hours of testimony about the project at a Nov. 21 public hearing. Most speakers supported the project, although others raised questions about possible environmental impacts.

The upcoming meetings mark the latest step in a decadeslong process to reshape 80 acres near Interstate 90 and state Route 900 — areas called Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center.

The council plans to review the proposal through mid-December and reach a decision by Dec. 19.

The proposed agreement requires Rowley Properties to provide or pay for transportation upgrades, affordable housing, creek restoration and storm water management.

Find a complete meeting schedule and read the environmental impact statement at www.ci.issaquah.wa.us/rowleyda.

Citizens can offer input on proposed redevelopment

November 22, 2011

City leaders could seal a deal to redevelop almost 80 acres in the business district next month.

In the meantime, citizens can offer input on the proposed development agreement between the city and Issaquah-based Rowley Properties at public meetings in late November and early December.

The hearing is the latest step in a decadeslong process to reshape 80 acres near Interstate 90 and state Route 900 — land dubbed Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center.

City Council members plan to review the proposal through mid-December and reach a decision by Dec. 19.

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City seeks input on proposed Rowley Properties rezone

November 15, 2011

The process to transform about 80 acres in the decades ahead is due to continue Nov. 21.

City Council members plan to gather input from citizens about a proposed rezone of Rowley Properties-owned Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center from commercial land to urban village — a designation used to foster mixed-use construction in the Issaquah Highlands and Talus.

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Issaquah quarry site is considered for homes, businesses

November 8, 2011

The hillside quarry below the Issaquah Highlands, plus land adjacent to the highlands, could someday transform into businesses and homes, if the city and landowner approve a long-term agreement to redevelop the site.

The landowner and quarry operator, Lakeside Industries Inc., proposed a development agreement for the 80-acre site.

The site — a quarry, a hillside and land on the plateau adjacent to the highlands — is zoned for mineral resources. The agreement under consideration could change the zoning to urban village — the same zoning for the highlands and Talus.

“We envision redevelopment that follows the patterns we are seeing in the highlands,” Lakeside Industries CEO Tim Lee said in a letter to City Administrator Bob Harrison. “Specifically, we foresee mixed uses and moderate density in a walkable community.”

City Council members sent the proposal to a committee Nov. 7 for further discussion.

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