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Tuesday, May 01, 2001

Call To Order

Chairman McDonald called the meeting to order at 6:05 PM in City Hall Council Chambers, 9611 SE 36th Street, Mercer Island, Washington.

Roll Call

Design Commissioners: Carl Bryant, Marcia Dawson, George Wittman, Fred Glick, Norman Sandler, Attila Laszlo and Chairman McDonald were present.

Staff Present

Kathy Harbert, Associate Planner, Richard Hart, DSG Director


There were no minutes to review and approve

Regular Business

Action Item #1:
Special meeting to discuss possible modifications to the Town Center District Development and Design Requirements with consultant, Mark Hinshaw. There will be no action on any proposed modifications at this time, as the meeting is for discussion and study purposes only.

Richard Hart, DSG Director, introduced and explained the purpose of Mark Hinshaw’s role, which is to review and clarify the Town Center District Development and Design Requirements.

Mr. Hinshaw stated his five objectives in reviewing the document:

  1. Simply written and consolidate where needed;
  2. User friendly for public use;
  3. Explain the design objectives, making expectations clear;
  4. No redundancies; and,
  5. Focus on the big objectives, staying away from micro reviews.

The approach to re-writing the entire document could be phased. Mr. Hinshaw proposed three phases:

  1. Clean up the language, ensuring there can be no legal challenges (Issaquah v. Anderson case);
  2. Remove internal conflicts and contradictions, (including the building height issue, whether or not to use stories or a maximum height dimension); and
  3. Modify substantive issues, such as switching to a floor area ratio (FAR) system of bonuses for public amenities and any other big policy changes.

Discussion included the following:

  1. Review of small-scaled issues versus large-scaled issues. These may not be covered in regulations, yet they can be reviewed, cautiously within legal means. Mr. Hinshaw recommended that the Commission focus their review on large-scaled issues and topics. The market will determine the mix of uses in a building;
  2. Mr. Hinshaw recommended not using “stories” in the regulations, instead use a fixed building height and a FAR system. Councilmember Cairns raised the controversy of stories versus height that currently exists;
  3. Mr. Hinshaw recommended the Commission and staff express points of views. A consensus vote needs to be made, especially with topics not covered in regulations. It is not appropriate for the applicant or decision maker to guess the meaning of code;
  4. Mr. Hinshaw briefed the Commission on the Issaquah v. Anderson case in terms of the need for clear and concise regulations;
  5. In terms of not having qualified professionals for projects, the Commission and staff need to request additional consultants, such as a landscape architect or urban design professional when necessary and appropriate; and,
  6. Staff identified the need to review the criteria and process for minor exterior modifications.

CONCLUSION: Mr. Hinshaw will give staff his comments in June 2001 regarding Phase 1. Staff will review his proposal and bring it to the Design Commission (July-August) for review and recommendation to the Planning Commission and City Council. City Council could hold a public hearing on the recommended proposal (September – October).

Councilmember Cairns suggested the scope of work needs to be considered before going to the City Council.

Chairman McDonald closed the special meeting for discussing modifications to the Town Center District Development and Design.

Other Business

Council Liaison Report: Councilmember Cairns supports taking forward the wordsmithing of the design regulations in order to immediately get the necessary legal changes done. He asked for clarification and notation of any major conceptual changes. Mr. Hinshaw concurred.

Next Regular Meeting: May 9, 2001 Scheduled Items: QFC cooler addition to the downtown store

Commissioner Absences: None were reported for the next meeting.

Adjournment: 8:12pm

[Important Note: The proceedings of the Design Commission meeting were recorded on tape and are on file with the Development Services Group. The complete agenda and official minutes of this meeting are also available from the Development Services Group.]


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