The victory last week by the Sammamish Heritage Society in its appeal of an Issaquah decision to allow demolition of buildings at the Lutheran church property on the Providence Heights campus off 228th Ave. is a seminal moment for the group.
But it may be short-lived.
The Issaquah Hearing Examiner ruled that Issaquah “did not have the opportunity to adequately consider adverse impacts to a site designated as a landmark” by Issaquah’s own landmark commission before issuing the permit to demolish the church, which has significant stained glass windows.
The Hearing Examiner remanded the case back to the city to consider the factors it didn’t previously. Landmark status wasn’t granted until after the city reached its decision to grant permission to demolish the buildings and windows.
State law required the determination by the city to be withdrawn if significant new information becomes available, the Hearing Examiner wrote in his decision.
With the remand, there is no guarantee that the city won’t reaffirm its decision in some other form.
The Examiner’s decision could be appealed by the city or the applicant. There is no indication yet if it will be.
“SHS is delighted with its success, but now the tiny historical society faces the challenge of legal costs and possible further advocacy work to preserve the campus, a former college for nuns with its chapel of internationally significant stained-glass windows, on a lovely wooded Sammamish Plateau site,” a spokesperson wrote Sammamish Comment.
This is the first time the Society took legal action to appeal the potential destruction of an historically significant structure.
In Sammamish, the Society previously lobbied and cajoled the City Council to preserve structures. It was successful with the Freed House, which was on 212th Ave. SE where Chestnut Estates is located at SE 20th. The home was moved to future park land that will become part of Big Rock Park.
Efforts to preserve the Eddy House on 218th Ave. SE were unsuccessful.
The Society’s main activities have been to preserve historical photos and documents and the history of Sammamish dating to its early days long before incorporation, when it was generally known as Monohan.
Although the Society is hardly out of the woods on the Providence Height action, either through paying its current legal costs or the get past potential appeals of the Examiner’s decision or the new determination by Issaquah, this victory may embolden the Society to taken a different approach to future preservation efforts in Sammamish.ouse