News

Posted: Saturday, July 4, 2015 - 08:35

The Hearing Examiner Ruled - DPD is Requiring Blanchet to Add More Info to their Submittal

The Hearing Examiner issued her decision on June 9. In response, Blanchet submitted a revised set of drawings.  On July 3, 2015 the DPD issued a Correction Notice to Blanchet requiring more details to be added to their submittal to conform to the Hearing Examiner's decision. Both items are posted under the "Resources" tab.

Posted: Sunday, March 29, 2015 - 13:50

Hearing Examiner Hearings Rescheduled for May 18 & 26

As a result of the pre-hearing, the Hearing Examiner's hearings have been rescheduled to May 18 & 26.
 
The hearings begin at 9:00 AM at the Hearing Examiner's offices, Room 4000, 40th floor of the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 Fifth Avenue.
The public is invited to attend, but public comments are not allowed.
 
If you have any formal testimony that you would like to give about impacts you have experienced during games, contact us prior to April 5 at BlanchetNeighbors@gmail.com - we and our attorney will be determing a short list of a few people to be called to formally testify in a trial-like setting.
 
The announcement of the hearing is posted under the "resources" tab on this site.

Posted: Monday, March 23, 2015 - 10:42

The Hearing Examiner's Hearing Has Been Scheduled for May 12

The Hearing Examiner's Hearing has been scheduled for May 12, 9:00 AM, at the Hearing Examiner's offices, Room 4000, 40th floor of the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 Fifth Avenue.
The public is invited to attend.
The announcement has been posted at http://blanchetneighbors.com/resources
 
 
 

Posted: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - 20:14

The DPD Issued their Decision on Blanchet's Stadium Lighting - Protections for our Neighborhood Are Inadequate - CBN HAS APPEALED TO THE HEARING EXAMINER - HEARING SCHEDULED for MAY 18 & 26

CBN, with its attorney, its consultants, and its expert witnesses has appealed the DPD's Decision to the Hearing Examiner.  The DPD's Decision, the Notice of Appeal, and all prior documents are posted under the "Resources" Tab.  Periodic news updates are posted under the "News" tab.  SEE UNDER THE "CONTRIBUTE TAB" FOR HOW TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE DEFENSE FUND FOR OUR HOME

Posted: Friday, February 6, 2015 - 00:44

CITY'S DPD HAS FINISHED REVIEWS FOR BLANCHET'S PERMIT

As of Feb. 5, 2015 According to DPD’s website, all of the permit review steps have now been completed. The permit will likely be posted soon. We will then review the conditions that permit places on the stadium and its lights; We will have about 2 weeks to decide whether they are adequate or whether to appeal.
 
All of our submittals to the city to date are under the “Resources” tab on this website - http://blanchetneighbors.com/resources . Our last 5 submittals were:
* CBN’s Peer Review of Blanchet’s Parking & Transportation Submittals – Feb. 5, 2015,
* CBN’s Submittal re Glare – Jan. 29, 2015
* CBN’s Technical Memorandum, re SEPA – Dec. 23, 2014
* CBN Response to DPD re Blanchet’s Lawyer’s Summary - Dec. 17, 2014
* CBN’s Technical Memorandum re Noise – Dec. 17, 2014
 
You can see all submittals by all parties posted by the DPD on their website at http://web6.seattle.gov/dpd/edms/default.aspx - type 3018118 in their “search by number” box.
 
And you can monitor progress of the permit at DPD’s website at http://web1.seattle.gov/DPD/permitstatus/Project.aspx?id=3018118

Posted: Friday, February 6, 2015 - 00:41

THE DPD HAS COMPLETED THEIR REVIEW STEPS FOR BLANCHET'S PERMIT. THE PERMIT WILL LIKELY BE POSTED SOON

After the permit is posted we will review the conditions it places on the project and will have about 2 weeks to appeal if needed.  See under the tab "Contribute" to learn how to contribute to our defense fund. See under the tab "Resources" to see our various submittals to the DPD. The last 2 were on Jan. 29 re Glare and Feb. 5 re parking & transportation.
 

 

Posted: Thursday, November 27, 2014 - 12:32

CBN HAS SUBMITTED MORE INFORMATION TO DPD ABOUT BLANCHET'S DEFICIENCIES

The fight continues. See our latest bulletin on the current status at http://blanchetneighbors.com/content/november-2014-bulletin-%E2%80%93-cu... *** WRITE *** See http://blanchetneighbors.com/document/talking-points-how-comment-city-hall *** CONTRIBUTE *** See http://blanchetneighbors.com/document/urgent-notice-contribute-now
>>> *** NEW ***  FEB. 5, 2015 *** CBN HAS ADDED 2 NEW DOCUMENTS TO http://blanchetneighbors.com/resources *** <<<

Posted: Thursday, November 27, 2014 - 12:19

NOVEMBER 2014 BULLETIN – CURRENT STATUS

The fight over Blanchet’s lights continues. Act immediately!! ***WRITE to the DPD about your concerns*** ***Contribute to our legal defense fund*** See our talking points for how to comment to City Hall at http://blanchetneighbors.com/document/talking-points-how-comment-city-hall .

We expect the City to make a permit decision about Blanchet’s Stadium application very soon. We will then have 2-3 weeks after that to decide whether to appeal. This is the final, 3 part defense of our neighborhood. Concerned Blanchet Neighbors voted last week to continue the fight in defense of our neighborhood – to do so we need your support and your contributions NOW. Please see http://blanchetneighbors.com/document/urgent-notice-contribute-now

CURRENT STATUS:

During Sept. and Oct. we attempted formal mediation with Blanchet. The resulting proposed settlement agreement is posted at http://blanchetneighbors.com/document/mediation-proposed-settlement-agre... . CBN’s membership voted not to accept it – see our summary to the city on why we rejected it at http://blanchetneighbors.com/document/why-cbn-rejected-mediated-settlement , with its Volume 2 – Exhibits, at http://blanchetneighbors.com/document/exhibits-vol-2-why-we-rejected-med... .

In mid November Blanchet sent to the city a new proposal for their lights. In it they suggested their proposed conditions of use to be applied in the permit – it’s posted here at http://blanchetneighbors.com/document/nov-2014-blanchet-proposed-new-con... . In it they asserted that their proposed conditions largely reflected the mediation agreement. That assertion is blatantly false. Our response to the city is posted at http://blanchetneighbors.com/document/cbns-response-blanchets-proposed-c... .

And in mid November, Blanchet proposed a different set of field lights. That proposal, complete with photos, is posted here at http://blanchetneighbors.com/document/blanchet-proposed-possible-alterna...

Posted: Monday, August 4, 2014 - 10:52

Blanchet Has Submitted A New Stadium Lighting Permit Application

Blanchet has submitted a new Stadium Lighting Permit Application.  As far as we know, as of of Aug. 4 the City has not yet decided whether or not to appeal Judge Zilly's decision. However, the city is obligated to begin processing Blanchet's new application.  A public comment period will close August 13. ACT NOW!! See our Bulletin at http://blanchetneighbors.com/document/bulletin-blanchets-new-permit-appl...

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014 - 23:03

LAWSUIT - the federal "Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000" (RLUIPA)

The city's Hearing Examiner ruled that Blanchet's proposal violated the city's Land Use Code and rejected the permit.
 
The Archdiocese and Blanchet then sued the city for costs and damages and to force the city to issue the permit.  They alleged that the city's Land Use Code violated the federal "Religious Institutions and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000" (RLUIPA).  They alleged that RLUIPA requires religious institutions to be treated the same as public institutions; that because Seattle has several public lighted stadiums jointly used by Seattle Parks and Schools, Blanchet's private stadium should have the same privilege without the same obligation to serve the public.
 
The federal district court agreed and ruled in the Archdiocese's and school's favor.
 
A number of legal authorities, both locally and nationally, believe the decision was in error and extends the reach of RLUIPA beyond prior precedent.  They argue that the decision likely would be overturned upon appeal.
 
Those legal authorities argue that the intent of RLUIPA was to prevent cities from singling out churches and religious institutions and treating them differently than comparable non-religious institutions.  That is not what the city has done.  The city has recognized the long-accepted differentiation, both in Seattle and elsewhere, between public uses and facilities and private uses and facilities

  1. Public facilities are under the control of elected officials, accountable to the public.  They decide on the location, nature, and operation of public facilities to best serve the public;  they are charged with weighing the benefit to the public versus other interests.  Private facilities are under no such obligation or constraint.
     
  2. Public facilities serve the public's interest and are open to the public.  Private facilities are under no such constraint.

They argue that the city rightfully treats public and private facilities differently - and further - that in conformance to RLUIPA, the city's code treats private religious facilities and private non-religious facilities the same.
 
As of late July 2014, we await the Cty Attorney's and City Council's decision whether to appeal.

Posted: Saturday, June 21, 2014 - 07:38

Federal District Court's Decision

The federal district court has ruled against the city and ourselves in our mutual defense of the city's land use code and against our defense of the neighborhood. It's decision is posted at http://blanchetneighbors.com/resources  STAY TUNED FOR OPTIONS CURRENTLY UNDER REVIEW

Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 15:35

April 25, 2014 Update

On April 25 the court directed the attorneys for the city, ourselves, and the Archdiocese/Blanchet to submit short briefs answering two specific questions by May 16, 2094.  We've posted a link to the court's request at http://blanchetneighbors.com/resources .
Since the court has re-dated the case, we don't know when it will be finalized.

Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 12:01

Update on the Court Case for Blanchet‘s Appeal

Blanchet submitted their final written submittal on their appeal of the City’s Hearing Examiner’s decision to the federal district court on Friday Feb. 14.  The case is now in the hands of the court to review and decide if Seattle’s land use code, as it affects this case, violates federal law and the Washington state constitution.  There is no timetable for the decision, but we’re guessing that it may be sometime in March.
 
Blanchet, the City, and Concerned Blanchet Neighbors have submitted to the court a series of 7 briefs, rebuttals, and replies beginning in August 2013.  We have posted them on our website at http://blanchetneighbors.com/resources

Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014 - 15:13

Court Case Nearing Conclusion

On Tuesday Feb. 4 the City and ourselves submitted our final written response to the federal court.  On Friday Feb 14 Blanchet is scheduled to submit their final 5 page response.  After that, the federal judge will issue his decision.  There is no schedule for his decision, but we believe it may be at some time in March.

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 - 20:41

Update on the Blanchet Stadium Lighting Legal Issues

History:
Our victory at the Hearing Examiner was appealed by Blanchet.  Since it involves federal law, the appeal was transferred to federal court.  The city attorney is vigorously defending the Hearing Examiner’s decision.  Concerned Blanchet Neighbors is supporting the City in their defense, and our attorney has filed a brief on our behalf, working with the City.  At this point the positions of the City and of CBN are effectively identical.
 
Current Status:
As previously scheduled, Blanchet and the Archdiocese filed their opening brief to Federal District Court on November 12.  The city and ourselves filed our mutual responses this week, on December 17.
 
The cases outlined by the city’s attorney and by our attorney both seem very strong.
The various filings by Blanchet, the Archdiocese, the city, and ourselves, including their exhibits, are too extensive to post on here:  they total apx. 68MB (2 ½” of paper).
 
Future:
The next step is for Blanchet and the Archdiocese to file their reply Jan. 21.  February will possibly see some more filings.  It is unlikely to have a decision prior to mid March … possibly later.
 
Will the outcome be appealed to federal Circuit Court (the next step below Supreme Court)?  We can’t know right now.  But there is the potential that either the Archdiocese or the City could appeal, depending which of the two wins or loses.  Any such appeal, if it were to occur, would possibly take a year.

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 18:43

October 17 Update: Federal Court Schedule

At long last we have something to report to you regarding the court case re the lights for Blanchet’s stadium:
As we have previously reported, the case is now before federal court.  After a few months of technical discussion amongst the various attorneys and the court, we have now received the tentative court schedule, described under the heading “Tentative Court Schedule” below.
 
Legal Status Summary:

  1. The city’s DPD originally ruled in Blanchet’s favor – that the lighting could proceed allowing use of lights up to 6 nights per week during fall and spring totaling 119 nights per year. We appealed to the city’s Hearing Examiner.
  2. The city’s Hearing Examiner ruled in our favor on July 17 that the variance to allow the lighting was contrary to city code;  the proposed lighting could not proceed.
  3. Blanchet (BB) and the Archbishop appealed by filing a suit against the city, essentially alleging that (a) the Hearing Examiner’s decision was in error and (b) the City’s land use code violates a federal law entitled “Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000” (RLUIPA).
    RLUIPA is a federal law stating, amongst other things, that “No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that treats a religious assembly or institution on less than equal terms with a nonreligious assembly or institution.”  BB is arguing that they are being treated unfairly.
  4. Because the case involves federal law, the case has been transferred to Federal District Court.
  5. The city’s attorney is taking the lead in defending the city. Since the case affects our neighborhood Concerned Blanchet Neighbors (CBN) is an additional party and our attorney is vigorously defending our neighborhood’s interests.

 
Tentative Court Schedule:

  1. Bishop Blanchet files its opening brief on November 12.
  2. CBN and City file a response and a motion to dismiss the suit on December 17.
  3. BB files a reply/response on January 21, 2014
  4. CBN and City file their reply on February 4, 2014
  5. BB replies, if needed, on February 14. This is also approximately the date that the judge decides if he will call for oral argument or issue a decision based only on the briefs.
  6. Current speculation: probably no decision until March, 2014 at the earliest.

Because of the complexity of the legal issues and the length of the schedule, additional funds would help.
Our attorney can limit his work to match the funds we currently have on hand in our trust account and is striving to do so, but some additional funds would allow him to spend more time to more fully address the case.  More information regarding contributions is at http://blanchetneighbors.com/contribute

Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 21:59

Blanchet & the Archdiocese appeal the Hearing Examiner's decision

As announced earlier, Blanchet and the Archdiocese have appealed the Hearing Examiner’s decision to State Superior Court. We will vigorously defend the Hearing Examiner’s decision alongside the city’s defense. We’ll update you periodically when more is known.

 

To avoid confusion: Some of you may have received today or tomorrow a letter from the city's DPD announcing the appeal hearing has been cancelled. That refers to the hearing at the Hearing Examiner which was cancelled when the Hearing Examiner ruled in our favor. It does not refer to, nor affect, the court case for Blanchet's appeal.
 
We have a substantial amount left in our trust account from the first round – enough to cover the lion’s share of our anticipated costs. We may or may not need to add to it as the case progresses, we’ll let you know when and if the need arises.
 
We remind you of the 19th annual Meridian Block Party between 80th and 82nd this Saturday between 2:00 and dark. (It usually takes an hour or two for many to arrive). You’re all invited this year in celebration of our first round victory. It includes a stage with neighborhood musicians and talent, a potluck, and games and entertainment for the whole family.
 
We will have a card at the block party for all to sign to thank our attorney, David Mann, for his winning the day for us in round 1. If you can’t make it to the party but would like to sign the card, send Lee Bruch an email at LBruch@nwlink.comand he will add your name, or arrange to come by his house to sign it in advance.
 

Once again, you’re all awesome in how the neighborhood has pulled together in its defense.

Posted: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 17:12

Blanchet & the Archdiocese Have Appealed the Hearing Examiner's decision

Blanchet and the Archdiocese appealed the Hearing Examiner's decision to State Superior Court asserting in part that the city land use code violates federal law and the Washington State constitution.  The case has been removed to Federal District Court. The case's status and schedule is at http://blanchetneighbors.com/news
 

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 22:41

TO OUR NEIGHBORS re the HEARING EXAMINER’S DECISION

 
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.
 
Party:
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
Website:  http://BlanchetNeighbors.com
BlanchetNeighbors@gmail.com
 

Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 14:44

the Hearing Examiner Overturned Blanchet's Permit

The Hearing Examiner ruled in our favor on our Motion of Summary Judgment and overturned Blanchet's permit. Our forthcoming hearing has therefore been cancelled.
We can rejoice in this important victory. But depending on Blanchet's response, there could be other battles ahead.

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