Paine Field flights debate continues

  • Tue Jan 5th, 2010 10:16pm
  • News

By Katya Yefimova Herald Writer

EVERETT — What would happen if commercial airlines were allowed to fly to and from Paine Field?

People weighed in on the subject again Tuesday evening during the second of three scheduled public hearings to assess the potential environmental impact of commercial passenger flights from the airport.

About 150 people came to the Snohomish County PUD auditorium to make their voices heard and to hear what others had to say.

Many people living around Paine Field are concerned commercial flights would bring noise, traffic, air pollution and shrinking property values. Others said commercial flights would attract more tourism and high-paying jobs to the area and be convenient for travelers.

Located southwest of Everett, the county-operated Paine Field mostly serves Boeing for test flights and small private airplanes. The Federal Aviation Administration is seeking the public’s input on a draft environmental assessment that looked at potential effects of two airlines scheduling regular flights between Paine Field and Portland, Ore., Spokane and Las Vegas.

The first meeting was held Monday at Meadowdale High School in Lynnwood. Officials on Tuesday changed the venue for the third meeting, scheduled for Jan. 21, to Kamiak High School from the Lynnwood Convention Center.

The most helpful comments are those that address how adding commercial flights would affect conditions in the area, said Mike Fergus, a regional FAA spokesman.

“If (people) can point out to what they believe to be the flawed assessment in the environmental analysis, that’s what we really want to hear,” he said.

Mark Avlon of Lynnwood was the first of about 45 people who signed up to comment on Tuesday. He opposes commercial flights.

“People’s quality of life will be affected,” he said. “(Proponents) don’t live within 5 miles of the airport.”

Dave Crosby travels for living and has supported the proposal from the start.

“I think it’s a community asset. I paid for it as a taxpayer, and I think we ought to use it,” he said.

Crosby said his south Everett home is within 5 miles of Paine Field.

Lori Bassani of Everett came to Tuesday’s meeting open to hearing both sides of the issue.

“My main concern is how it might affect my property values,” she said. “But first I want to see what they have to say.”

According to the analysis, the proposed commercial flights would result in no significant increase in pollution, traffic or noise to the area, said Ryk Dunkelberg, a representative of the consultant firm that headed the assessment.

Opponents worry the report’s findings assume the minimum effects of commercial flights on the area. Federal law doesn’t allow the county to limit passenger air service. The number of flights could grow far beyond what is currently estimated, people said during the meeting.

The cities of Mukilteo, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and Woodway oppose commercial flights from the airport. There are three main courses of action the FAA can take after the hearings. It can decide there is no significant impact, order specific steps to counter issues that have come up, or require a full Environmental Impact Statement.

Herald writer Noah Haglund contributed to this report.

Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452, kyefimova@heraldnet.com.

Kamiak High School hearing

The FAA has changed the venue for the public hearing on Jan. 21 to Kamiak High School from the Lynnwood Convention Center. The school is at 10801 Harbour Pointe Boulevard, Mukilteo. It starts at 6 p.m.

People can submit comments by writing until Feb. 5. The draft environmental assessment is available for review at the Paine Field Airport office, in local public libraries, on the Paine Field Web site at www.painefield.com/ airserviceea.html, and at www.snoco.org/departments/airport.