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September 1, 2009 at 3:24 PM

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Helicopters in Bellevue a contentious issue

Posted by Katherine Long

Today's the official opening day of the Overlake Hospital Medical Center's helistop, or helicopter landing pad. The new landing pad on the hospital's west parking garage will make it easier for patients to get to the hospital in emergencies, as well as speeding the time it takes patients to be transported to other hospitals.

Helicopters landing in Bellevue has proved to be a contentious issue. Earlier this year, Kemper Development received preliminary approval from a hearing examiner to operate a helistop atop the Bank of America building. But that has since been appealed.

Jim Hill, vice-president of Kemper Development, downplayed the significance of the appeal when we spoke to him Friday. "We're in limbo right now," he said. "We'll require some additional hearings."

But opponents now have a Web site going on the issue. They're asking for the city to file an emergency moratorium on private helicopter landings in the city. The issue will come before the City Council in October.

The city has an unofficial helicopter landing pad that's shared by the fire and police departments, on 116th Avenue Northeast adjacent to Interstate 405. Neither department has its own helicopter, but the King County Sheriff's Department has several of them.

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Video | Get to know Bellevue Blog reporters Nicole Tsong and Katherine Long.