Friday, July 19, 2013

This neighborhood rocks!!!
It is simply amazing the way that all of you in the neighborhood have pulled together to successfully fight Blanchet’s proposed lighted stadium.  The key for this victory was our mutual love for this neighborhood – our home.  It happened because of the amount of work from the many concerned volunteers and the contributions that enabled us to hire our attorney, David Mann.  His knowledgeable legal arguments won the day.
Please reserve Saturday August 10 on your calendars.  On that day Meridian between 80th and 82nd is holding its 19th annual block party.  It has always been instrumental in coalescing our block’s sense of community.  We always have a stage with amplified music, neighborhood musicians, a potluck, and games and entertainment for the entire family.  This year we would like to invite all of you and your families to participate.  We’ll send out more details later.
What does this decision mean?
The city’s Department of Planning and Development had awarded Blanchet a Variance and an Administrative Conditional Use permit to allow Blanchet to add lighting and modify their sound system at their stadium, thereby greatly expanding the stadium’s hours and intensity of use and the consequent noise, glare, parking, and stadium-related nighttime disturbances.  We appealed to the Hearing Examiner, who agreed that the variance was granted contrary to the City’s code.  Therefore the permit is overturned.
Now what?  Is the game over?
The situation will remain as it has been over the last few years. Nothing changes. The permit is cancelled.  A new application would have to be made for any future permit.
We don’t know if it’s just halftime or the end of game.  Based on Blanchet’s incremental stadium development to date, we are concerned that the fight may not be over.
That depends entirely upon Blanchet’s response.  They have a wide range of potential options, including amongst others, realizing and accepting that their proposed lighted stadium does not solve many of their needs and is not in an appropriate location, or appealing to Superior Court, or political lobbying to change the existing laws, or cooperating with others to create a new athletic complex of a size that better solves the need of many schools at an appropriate non-residential location.  We must remain vigilant and maintain the defense of our home.
There are some loose ends remaining:
During our defense we noted a number of activities that Blanchet has pursued that are contrary to city code, as follows:
The press box on the west bleachers was constructed without required permits and public notice.  We issued a formal complaint.  The city concurred and ordered Blanchet to, prior to April 6, 2013, either remove it or apply for proper permits, which would include both an Administrative Conditional Use Permit (which will involve a public process similar to their latest proposal) and a Building Permit including a structural analysis.  We expect them to apply for those shortly, and we will respond as needed to protect our neighborhood.
Blanchet tried to illegally expand their institution without the proper permits by occupying 2 residences with school offices (1815 and 1819 N. 85th Street).  We issued a formal complaint.  The city concurred and ordered Blanchet to either remove the offices or apply for proper permits, which would include both a Variance and an Administrative Conditional Use Permit (which will involve a public process exactly like the latest proposal).  As of July 1 Blanchet removed the offices.  We do not know whether they will apply for permits to reoccupy them.
Noise:  Numerous noise complaints have been made to the city regarding the noise from the stadium.  The city has been resistant to investigate them.  Finally, in 2012, we hired a professional noise expert whose tests during a game showed that the noise was in violation of city codes.  Only then did the city agree to investigate.  Their conclusion after their tests, not conducted during a game and done while Blanchet operated the sound system, was that the noise was not in violation of the code.  We and nearby neighbors will continue to monitor this and demand that the city uphold their enforcement responsibilities.
Your contributions:
We should receive final billings for the attorney’s work to date during the month of August.  At that time we will do an accounting.  We expect there to be adequate reserves remaining which we will return to the donors on a prorated basis as noted below.
We don’t yet know Blanchet’s response and whether additional legal services will be required to respond to it.  So with your concurrence we will retain the remaining funds in our trust account until it is clear whether we need to incur additional legal fees for our neighborhood’s defense.
Executive Committee of Concerned Blanchet Neighbors