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Design Commission - Minutes     
Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Chair Bryan Caditz, called the meeting to order at 7:31 PM in the Council Chambers, 9611 SE 36th Street, Mercer Island, Washington. 



Chair Bryan Caditz, Susanne Foster, Bert Loosmore, Emmet Maloof, Lucia Pirzio-Biroli and Council Liaison Grausz were present.  Commissioners Scott Kuznicki and Ann Nielson were excused.



Steve Lancaster, Development Services Director, George Steirer, Principal Planner, and Shana Crick, Planner, were present.  



The minutes of November 11, 2008 were approved by consent as amended.




AGENDA ITEM #1 – OPEN RECORD PUBLIC HEARING: Mercer Island Boys and Girls Club PEAK Project.


Shana Crick, Planner, presented the final staff report and recommended final design approval with conditions provided the Design Commission determines that the applicant has met the preliminary conditions of approval based on the information provided. Ms. Crick responded to questions from the Commission.


Debin Schliesman of Weinstein A/U, representative for the applicant, gave a brief presentation and answered questions from the Commission. Ms. Schliesman also presented the Commission with a new packet of information containing updated tree, lighting, and pedestrian and bicycle circulation plans. The packet also included a new utility plan, as well as a plan for a “learning landscape”.


Karen Kiest, the applicant’s Landscape Architect, further described the “learning landscape” to the Commission, highlighted changes to the tree plan, and described the impacts of proposed utilities on existing trees. Ms. Kiest responded to questions from Commissioner Loosmore regarding trees as well as those from Commissioner Foster about the “learning landscape”. Commissioner Pirzio-Biroli requested that Ms. Kiest identify the Madrona trees on site and describe planned preservation measures.


Sid Kitchings of King County Boys and Girls Club spoke to the Commission about the parking plan for the PEAK project. Mr. Kitchings responded to questions from Chair Caditz.  


Commissioner Loosmore stated his concerns regarding the preservation of existing trees and asserted that the proposed design does not meet the intent of the code.


Commissioner Foster declared that condition #3 of the preliminary approval has been met by the applicant. However, Commissioner Foster articulated that there was still room for improvement.


Commissioner Pirzio – Biroli expressed agreement with Commissioner Loosmore that there has not been an effort to find a solution to preserve the mature trees on site.


Commissioner Maloof said that he was concerned with the amount of parking on site because that appeared to be a major concern of the neighbors.


Chair Caditz recommended removing the proposed parking space in the northeast corner of the property to preserve seven existing mature trees.


Councilmember Grausz provided insight into the process of siting the building. He also stated that removed trees will be replaced by large trees, so, after several years, the building will not be visible from the street. Councilmember Grausz contended that the parking problems have been addressed by the development agreement and one additional parking space is not of any consequence to the project.


Commissioner Maloof moved that the Design Commission grant final approval subject to staff determining that the applicant has complied with condition #6 of the staff report, MICC 19.12.040(B)(11)(g), in accordance with Exhibit 1 and as amended by the supplemental information provided during the meeting by the applicant. Chair Caditz seconded the motion.


Chair Caditz proposed to amend the motion by requiring the removal of the proposed parking space. Commissioner Foster seconded Chair Caditz’s amendment to the motion. The amendment passed with 4 yahs and 1 nay.


Commissioner Pirzio – Biroli moved to amend that eighteen seedling Madronas be added to the study area with the intention to ensure they survive. Commissioner Foster seconded Commissioner Pirzio – Biroli’s proposed amendment. The amendment passed with 3 yahs and 2 nays.


The main motion to grant Final Design Review Approval as conditioned passed with 4 yahs and 1 nay.


AGENDA ITEM #2 – STUDY SESSION: Mercer Island School District Maintenance Operations and Transportation (MOT) Building


Principal Planner, George Steirer, gave the staff report to the Commission for the MOT study session.


Commissioner Pirzio – Biroli requested an update on the status of the Mercer Island School District Campus Master Plan.  Director Lancaster provided information regarding the proposed Master Plan and referred Commissioner Pirzio - Biroli to Liz Leroy, representative for the Mercer Island School District, for further information.


Commissioner Loosmore inquired about LEED certification for the proposed MOT building. Principal Planner Steirer stated the design standards do not require it to be LEED certified. Ms. Leroy emphasized that many buildings incorporate the “Washington for Sustainable Schools” protocol.


Ms. Leroy provided a summary of the Master Plan process as well as a status update. 


Commissioner Pirzio - Biroli inquired about public comment opportunities for the Campus Master Plan. Director Lancaster offered to email the dates of the meetings to the Commissioners.


Ms. Leroy provided information regarding the Design Review proposal and answered questions from the Commission.


Lee Fenton, of BLRB Architects went over a new packet of materials that was presented to the Design Commission by the applicant during the meeting. Mr. Fenton also responded to questions from the Commission.


Commissioner Loosmore asked if the building could be moved. Ms. Leroy expressed that there must be a visual connection between the MOT building and the bus lot.


Commissioner Loosmore stated that the building could be moved southwest to preserve more trees. Mr. Fenton replied that there are two concerns about moving the building - adjacency to Crest and the increased vertical dimension. Further discussion ensued regarding the location of the building.


Commissioner Pirzio - Biroli stated that the building does not reflect the modulation requirements of the code. Chair Caditz agreed with Commissioner Pirzio - Biroli’s comments about the building. However, he would like to explore ways to meet the design regulations without “breaking the bank”.  


Commissioner Loosmore suggested that moving the building would keep more trees and hide the lack of fenestration.


Commissioner Pirzio - Biroli declared both the architecture and the siting to be questionable, and she is concerned about how it’s design will fit in with the final Master Plan.



Commissioner Maloof will not be available for the January 14, 2009 meeting.


ADJOURNMENT:          9:47 PM


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