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Based on "best available science," the critical area regulations have continued to evolve, which typically means the buffers have gotten larger during the time the development agreement areas built out.
The result is that properties next to or near critical areas will have buffers that extend onto their property. This will make them "legally non-conforming."
Legally non-conforming properties are allowed to remain, rebuild, remodel, add on, etc., but they may have more restrictions on how they can do it. Issaquah has a lot of experience working with legally non-conforming properties since from its earliest days, as people have built next to streams and in wetlands.
One of the City’s goals, however, while ending the development agreements is to retain the character of the urban villages.
To be successful, key elements of the development agreements will be retained including the goals, guidelines, building heights and setbacks, land uses and parks/trails/plaza standards.
Central Issaquah standards grew out of the Issaquah Highlands development agreement, and have evolved based on lessons learned. However, the Central Issaquah standards that will be used are intended to retain the character and implement the vision established in the goals and guidelines, not change the urban village character. The Architectural Review Committee for each urban village will also continue to review the architecture of new and changed buildings.
In negotiating the agreement, the property owner and city form a partnership with a shared vision, tailored specifically for that property.
In exchange for increased density, the property owner includes public amenities. In Issaquah Highlands and Talus, for example, the respective developers set aside significant portions of their properties as permanent forested open space — more than 1,400 acres in the Highlands and about 400 acres at Talus.
Also during the development agreement build-out period, regulations are set and cannot be updated unless both the City and Master Developer agree to the change. As a result, some of the regulations are out of date or do not reflect best available science.
In the beginning, the adopted standards for travel lanes and parallel parking were narrow to slow traffic and facilitate pedestrian safety. Over time, these standards evolved.
Road standards are wider than they were when the agreements were originally approved. One of the Central Issaquah standards proposed for the urban villages are road standards. These standards either widen the standards slightly or maintain the slightly wider widths that have been approved for the urban villages over time.
The City’s goal is to have functional roads that keep travel speeds slow for a safe pedestrian environment.
Any future change will require a rezone, which means public notice and approval by the City Council is required. It doesn’t mean it can’t change, but the community will have an opportunity to discuss whether the change is a good idea or not.
Parks and trails are important parts of each urban village’s character. Staff have worked with the homeowner’s association to map all the parks: public, private, multi-family, etc. Look at the draft maps to see if a park has been identified to be preserved. View draft maps.
We are mailing every property owner a postcard so that citizens can learn more. After reading these FAQs, if you have questions or concerns, please contact us.
City staff have proposed a minimum FAR for commercial and retail properties. The purpose of a minimum FAR is to avoid the final properties in the urban villages being built with low-density, auto-oriented uses that aren’t consistent with the urban village vision.
Also at Issaquah Highlands, 65 percent of the commercial zoning and 53 percent of the retail hasn’t been built. At Talus 63 percent of the commercial zoning hasn’t been built.
The City doesn’t expect every bit of the allowed uses to be built; however, obtaining more employment opportunities is important for completing the live-work-play vision of the urban villages.
No TDRs may be used at Talus. At Issaquah Highlands, the Council Land & Shore Committee is discussing whether commercial and mixed-use properties can add TDRs or if TDRs should be limited to the area near the Park and Ride. This would be limited to commercial or retail uses, not residential, and would allow additional restaurants, stores and offices.