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Neighbors, Seattle high school battle over stadium lights

Seattle's Bishop Blanchet High School and neighbors continue fighting over the school's efforts to erect 70-foot light towers at its football stadium. (Google Maps image)

Should Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet High School be allowed to put 70-foot tall light towers at field near Green Lake? A long-running legal battle between the private school and neighbors fighting the lights is now in federal court.

The school has been trying to get the lights since 2011, and the city originally approved the plans, but neighbors filed a successful appeal and the Seattle Hearing Examiner ruled the lights violated city code.

“Our concern is the total impact of a stadium on a single-family neighborhood,” said Lee Bruch with Concerned Blanchet Neighbors in an interview with KIRO Radio’s Tom and Curley Show. “It’s any single-family neighborhood in Seattle, especially during the evening.”

Bruch says the neighbors think highly of the school, but are opposed to a big influx of people throughout the evening not only for football games, but practices and other events. The school reportedly planned up to 119 evening activities per year at the stadium in northeast Seattle.

“The streets are narrow, the houses are tight against both the stadium and against each other so that the parking, the traffic, the noise, the lighting and glare and the disturbances from crowds reaches far more people than in a normal, larger, more expansive neighborhood,” he said.

The school and the Seattle Archdiocese have filed a lawsuit, arguing it is being discriminated against because it is a private school and numerous public schools have lighted stadiums. But Bruch argues most of those are in less congested neighborhoods.

Bishop Blanchet President Antonio DeSapio tells KING 5 the school needs the lights to accommodate all of its teams. “We have the chance to put field lights up like a lot of public schools here. We’re just looking for that same chance.”

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