Kemper Development gets the go-ahead for helistop
July 23, 2009 · Updated 8:07 PM
Helicopter landings are in the future for downtown Belleuve.
City Hearing Examiner Christopher Mathews on July 20 approved a conditional-use permit for Kemper Development to operate a helistop on the Bank of America Building near Bellevue Square.
Residents for months have raised concerns about how the facility would affect noise, quality of living, and safety.
But Mathews wrote in his decision: "The proposal is consistent with the goal of remaining competitive in the next generation, and of improving the viability and accessibility of downtown Bellevue."
Bellevue developer John Su had appealed a SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) determination of non-significance for the proposed helipad, setting up a potential roadblock for the plan.
Su, however, withdrew his appeal earlier this month. His attorney, George Kersovich, said in a letter that Su Development backed off because it did not think "an adversarial proceeding regarding a single proposal is an effective way to protect the broader interests that the city has neglected to address in this case."
That letter also encouraged the city to develop a comprehensive set of policies that could guide similar proposals in the future.
The helistop permit includes conditions that limit the helistop to five operations per week, prohibit activity on Sundays and legal holidays, and restrict the flight pattern to freeways and Northeast Eighth Street.
Only light-turbine choppers would be able to use the facility.
Kemper Development will also have to provide the city with documentation of flight frequency and times on a monthly basis for the first year, and then on a semi-annual basis after that.
Additinally, a phone line and web site will have to be set up to take complaints once the project is approved.
Mathews addressed the issue of noise, noting that sound tests showed that the proposed flights "will not create a noticeable noise impact to the community."
Mathews also pointed out that the sounds originating from aircraft in flight are the concern of the Federal Aviation Administration, since they are exempt from Bellevue's city code.
Many residents had expressed concerns that helicopters traveling to and from the helistop would stray from designated routes.
Mathews addressed that issue, writing in his decision: "The applicant and the city must remain vigilant about flight patterns for all arriving and departing helicopters and require strict compliance by all pilots."
The hearing examiner's decision can only be appealed by residents who provided comments during the permitting process or the hearing. Any appeal would have to be submitted by Aug. 3 as a written statement related to the findings of fact or conclusion.
The Bellevue City Council would be in charge of considering appeals, which can be sent to the city clerk. For more information about submitting appeals, contact 425-452-6466 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.