Everett has eyes for Paine Field

The land rush is on again.

With Mukilteo making moves to claim county land around Paine Field, an Everett city councilman has decided not to sit on the sidelines any longer.

City planners are dusting off old studies conducted when Everett was looking to annex the county-run airport and the land around it.

City Councilman Paul Roberts’ actions were prompted by an apparent border feud between Mukilteo and Snohomish County over the land near the airport.

“Everett has a dog in this hunt,” said Roberts, a former planning director for Everett, who now heads up Marysville’s public works department.

Roberts worked on land use plans for southwest Everett in 1996, which laid the groundwork for an expansion of the Boeing Co.’s massive manufacturing plant on the airport’s northern boundary.

The plans sped up the environmental review process for other businesses in the city’s large industrial strip near Paine Field.

A recent study exploring land that could be annexed into Mukilteo includes several areas north, south and west of the airport.

Roberts said he wants to re-examine Everett’s southern and westward urban growth boundaries to see how they relate to Mukilteo’s blueprint for future growth.

Besides Boeing, the Paine Field area is home to jet parts suppliers and numerous other aerospace businesses, including Goodrich Corp.

Roberts said he doesn’t want to see other activities encroach on the operation of businesses that make up a big chunk of the local economy.

“The Paine Field area is the most significant aerospace manufacturing center in the world,” Roberts said. “The city of Everett has a long history in preserving that center.”

More than a decade ago Everett studied the prospect of annexing the airport, but it determined that doing so would be a money loser, Everett Planning Director Alan Giffen said.

Even if it could successfully wrangle control of the airport from the county, laws governing municipal airports limited the city’s ability to collect tax revenue from the property, Giffen said.

Everett’s ambitions didn’t stop at the airport.

Everett was once eyeing land south of Paine Field. Mukilteo is now considering claiming some of the same area.

Everett’s plans to grow south toward Lake Stickney were dashed early this decade because the city determined that stringing utilities to the area would be too costly.

City planners have not yet seen Mukilteo’s growth study, which was done by Seattle consultant Berk and Associates.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson said he is surprised Paine Field land disputes are flaring up again.

“I think this issue has been resolved. This was all debated and settled a decade ago,” said Stephanson.

Still, he said Everett has a major stake in the future of the Paine Field area.

“If this issue is being opened up, we want to be at the table” he said.

Stephanson is co-chairman of a panel of elected officials and business leaders who are studying the possibility of expanding commercial passenger service at the airport.

Mukilteo’s former mayor, Don Doran, is the group’s other co-chairman.

Mukilteo, which does not support regular passenger service at Paine Field, is studying annexing a narrow slice of land sandwiched between the Mukilteo Speedway and Paine Field.

The city wants a say in how the land is developed and it wants tax revenue from businesses that could build there, Mukilteo Mayor Joe Marine said.

The airport is considering adding a taxiway and hangars for Boeing in the same area, county officials have said.

Explaining why the city wants more control of the land, Marine pointed to a strip mall with a McDonald’s west of the airport, where Mukilteo often provides police or emergency service. Yet the mall sits on unincorporated county property.

“It’s not a land grab, we’re just saying if we’re looking at annexation we have to look at the whole area and see what makes sense,” he said.

Peter Camp, who oversees Paine Field for the county, said he doesn’t expect any land use conflicts, for now.

“Nobody has identified any issues that give me concerns at this point,” he said.

Reporter David Chircop: 425-339-3429 or dchircop@heraldnet.com.

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