Members of Save Cougar Mountain are concerned that the steep slopes of the Bergsma property could be a landslide hazard. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

Members of Save Cougar Mountain are concerned that the steep slopes of the Bergsma property could be a landslide hazard. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

Fate of Cougar Mountain development still unknown

The city of Issaquah is still reviewing a land-use application for 57 houses on Cougar Mountain.

The fate of a 57-unit housing complex on Cougar Mountain is still being decided by the city of Issaquah as the project makes its way through the city’s review process.

The Bergsma Development was proposed last year by Windward Real Estate Services. Its initial proposal was for 78 new homes to be built on a portion of a 45 acre lot on the side of Cougar Mountain. The City Council unanimously rejected this proposal so the developers went back to the drawing board and submitted a land-use application for a 57 house project.

This proposal has prompted a backlash in Issaquah, as documented in earlier Reporter stories, with the creation of a group called Save Cougar Mountain. Member Susan Neville said they were expecting to hear a decision from the city on March 26, but the deadline was pushed back 30 days.

Comments from the community have been submitted to the city for consideration, including a legal comment drafted by the firm Bricklin and Newman representing Save Cougar Mountain. In it, the firm outlined a list of environmental concerns the group had, which include impacts to soil and slope, air quality stemming from the removal of trees and traffic, stormwater runoff and stream protections, among others.

The firm said 100-foot buffers could be reduced by 27 percent under the proposal. Also included in the firm’s comment were concerns about the aesthetic impacts of a development on the hillside, which is currently undeveloped forest.

Save Cougar Mountain has said around 60 percent of the proposed development includes critical areas with wetlands, streams and steep slopes. For the houses to be developed two wetlands would have to be cut down and 22 acres of trees removed, the comment read.

Landslides are another concern of Save Cougar Mountain, which points to a 2015 study that identified potential landslide risks on slopes greater than 40 percent. Windward has pointed to various other studies that have found no risk of landslides.

Julie Clark, also with the conservation group, said their concerns have basis in reality following a 2015 landslide on a nearby portion of the mountain which cost the city millions of dollars to repair.

Save Cougar Mountain member Kay Haynes said she hopes the city and county will band together to purchase the land and potentially add it to the county’s Cougar Mountain Park, which abuts the property.

Windward President Jim Tosti has previously told the Reporter the development will benefit the city by providing more housing as well as making improvements on Newport Way. The development is located near Interstate 90 with views of the valley.

It is unclear how much the property is worth or how expensive the houses would be, but if real estate trends in Puget Sound are any indication, the houses would likely be near or more than $1 million each.

Tosti said in an email he couldn’t comment on any updates yet.

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