Privacy concerns stall plans for new Lake Washington High School

Plans to build a new Lake Washington High School by 2011 are on hold after neighbors noted the taller buildings could give students a room with a view -- into their bedrooms.

  • Wednesday, June 4, 2008 9:07pm
  • News

Plans to build a new Lake Washington High School by 2011 are on hold after neighbors noted the taller buildings could give students a room with a view — into their bedrooms.

Amanda Fry, whose home borders the school property, challenged the Lake Washington School District’s plans before City Council at a May 20 meeting. At issue is a request to lift a zoning code for building heights from an allowable 35 feet to 49 feet. A number of neighbors question the plan’s heights, but only Fry submitted a formal objection.

The district’s plans propose to offset the heights with trees and fences. According to Fry’s letter, the proposed buffer of six-foot trees and fencing will do little to protect her privacy.

“The angle of view shown allows students that attend the school direct visibility into our bedroom,” she said in the letter.

The LWSD project is part of a plan to re-conceptualize the school. The design will create four “student houses” on the second and third floors of the building that accommodate 300 students each, along with house-dedicated teachers. The proposal also moves the new 208,000-square-foot building to the southwest corner of the school’s 38.1-acre property, closer to the Fry home.

Despite the protests, LWSD project manager David Zeitlin said the plan to accommodate the neighbors is adequate.

“There’s nothing that I know of that requires the developer to provide complete privacy to a neighbor’s yard,” Zeitlin said.

The new school will be unified by an airy, two-story windowed main entrance into a student commons area, library and career center, with administrative offices and a cafeteria nearby.

“I would like to direct staff to work with Mrs. Fry and with the school district to resolve this,” Councilwoman Joan McBride said.

The Council unanimously agreed that the school district should work with Fry to address her concerns about privacy and landscaping. It also asked the LWSD to address further concerns with construction operations and the installation of a bus shelter on 80th Street. The matter will return to Council June 5.

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