Noise testing to be repeated for proposed Bellevue helipad

Kemper Development wants permission to land helicopters on top of the Bank of America building at Northeast Eighth Street and Bellevue Way. A pad already exists on top. - Joshua Adam Hicks/Bellevue Reporter
Kemper Development wants permission to land helicopters on top of the Bank of America building at Northeast Eighth Street and Bellevue Way. A pad already exists on top.
— image credit: Joshua Adam Hicks/Bellevue Reporter

The Kemper Development company will conduct a second sound test to determine the effects of helicopter landings and takeoffs on the roof of the Bank of America building in downtown Bellevue, according to the city.

Kemper requested a conditional-use permit to operate a helipad there and has already performed one live trial at the site.

The city plans to issue a notice before the next test, giving the public a chance to observe the event.

“People can be at home or in the buildings this time around to see how it affects them,” said city of Bellevue planning manager Liz Stead.

There was no date set for the second sound test at the Reporter deadline.

The Federal Aviation Administration is providing information to the city about airspace requirements and has promised to work closely with representatives from Kemper to ensure that the company understands those guidelines, according to Stead.

Kemper is asking for a maximum of 40 landings per month between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., according to a permit application from the company. The helipad would be used for non-public purposes.

The expected flight pattern for chopper flights traveling to and from the Bank of America building would be over I-405, I-90 and SR-520.

Measurements taken during the first sound test showed that noise levels increased up to 63 percent, although experts noted that the rise was not enough to interfere with speech.

A public meeting took place on Feb. 18 to discuss Kemper’s permit application. Around 40 people attended the event, according to Stead.

Residents have had mixed reactions to the proposed structure. Some say it is a natural addition to Bellevue’s urbanized downtown, while others contend that it would cause too much of a nuisance.

“Lots of expensive condos have been built downtown, and this is a very intrusive move by Kemper Development,” wrote Bellevue resident Marjorie Benson in an e-mail to the Bellevue Reporter. “For once, I hope the city goes against Kemper Freeman on this request.”

Netty Knutsen, who lives in the Woodridge neighborhood, said that she sees enough helicopter traffic from news choppers constantly buzzing around her neighborhood as they veer off track from above I-405 and I-90.

“Some of them look like they’re coming over for lunch,” she said.

Bellevue’s hearing examiner will determine whether or not to grant the conditional-use permit, but the decision is appealable to the Bellevue City Council.

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