Kemper helistop issue stuck in 'procedural knot'
By JOSHUA ADAM HICKS
Bellevue Reporter Former Staff Writer
July 8, 2010 · Updated 6:02 PM
Plans for opening a private helistop in downtown Bellevue are still on hold following the latest in a series of steps to reach a permitting decision.
The city council and hearing examiner have been punting the issue back and forth for over a year now and the issue dragged out further on Tuesday as the council balked on its next likely move – sending the case back to the hearing examiner.
Kemper Development meanwhile awaits word on the conditional-use permit it needs to operate a helicopter-landing station atop the Bank of America Building, located kitty corner from Bellevue Square on NE Eighth Street.
Kemper Development attorney Keith Dearborn joked that he has been through two surgeries and two full rehabilitations since the process started, yet there is still no resolution to the permit issue.
The city's development-services department recommended approval of the permit application last year, and a hearing examiner granted it with conditions in July.
But a group of residents including developer John Su and Ina Tateuchi – whose foundation paid $25 million for the naming rights of a proposed 2,000-seat performing arts center in downtown Bellevue – appealed that decision to the city council.
The council eventually handed the case back to the hearing examiner with instructions to review input from the FAA about potential safety concerns – there appeared to be discrepancies in the agency's report.
The hearing examiner punted back, this time asking the city council to request additional information about the case from Development Services – apparently because he didn't think he had authority to do so himself.
"We've gotten ourselves into a procedural knot," said Tateuchi attorney Steven Recor.
The council on Tuesday nearly resolved the issue by granting authority for the hearing examiner to work directly with Development Services in gathering information.
That didn't happen because the lawyers in the case had no opportunity to review the language of the
resolution motion. City attorney Lori Riordan merely read the proposal aloud before the council was to approve the measure.
Dearborn objected to the process.
"Reading a resolution aloud is something that should be avoided if it could be," he said.
The council agreed to consider the proposal again on Monday, following a review by the lawyers on opposing sides.