By Nina Milligan, Highlands Council Communications Manager
December 7, 2016
The Urban Village Development Commission (UVDC) of the City of Issaquah met last night to review a proposal (AB7215) by Polygon Homes, the developer who owns almost 40 acres in the western edges of Issaquah Highlands. The commission voted unanimously to recommend to the city council approval of the proposal, with several “conditions”.
The proposed amendment asks for approval to add 100 Transfer Development Rights (TDRs) to Issaquah Highlands and to develop Tract D (located at College and Falls Drive) as 25 units of “affordable housing” plus one group home for LEO (Life Enrichment Options).
The proposal is a formal step required by the TDR program. Issaquah Highlands is a designated receiving site for TDRs. This proposal does not increase development density above previously approved levels. Tract D is city-owned property, zoned for affordable housing, that was added to Issaquah Highlands in 2011.
Several residents from Forest Ridge in Issaquah Highlands spoke during the public comment period. Forest Ridge sits adjacent to Tract D. They voiced concerns about speeding drivers and insufficient parking their neighborhood already experiences, worried these conditions will worsen with the development of Tract D.
Affordable Housing: In Issaquah Highlands: Buyers qualify if they earn 80, 100 or 120% of King County median income (currently $72,240 for a two-person household).
Low Income Housing: King County defines “low income” as earning 80% or lower of median income.
The commissioners grappled with the pros and cons of supporting the proposal for Polygon’s proposal to build affordable housing on Tract D. Directly responding to the public comments, they added to their recommendation that when the permit is submitted for Tract D, that it be reviewed by the UVDC. Such a review would allow commissioners to comment on the overall design including building design and how it fits with the existing neighborhood, adequacy of on-site parking, park resources, and traffic safety impacts.
Keith Niven, Director of Issaquah’s Development Services Department (DSD), and Lucy Sloman, Land Manager DSD, engaged the commissioners in drafting their recommendation as a formal “motion” on the big screen (see image). This recommendation advances the Agenda Bill (AB 7215) to the City Council for their consideration.
The final approval requires a vote of the Issaquah City Council. There is a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, January 17, 2017.
All city officials represent the entire city when serving on boards and commissions. However, it is worth noting that three of the UVDC commissioners live in Issaquah Highlands: Chair, Geoff Walker (absent 12/6), Vice Chair Karl Leigh (presiding Chair 12/6), and long-serving commissioner Scott McKillop.