EVERETT — The Everett City Council gave the green light Wednesday to pay up to $70,000 for a study taking a closer look at commercial passenger flights at Paine Field.
Thomas/Lane Associates of Seattle was tapped to conduct an independent study investigating whether Paine Field could serve as a secondary regional airport for flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Phoenix.
If the study finds opportunity for commercial expansion, Thomas/Lane Associates would move to a second phase, weighing the benefits to businesses, residents, tourism and city coffers. It will also look at potential problems for neighborhoods surrounding Paine Field, including whether an expansion would increase noise and pollution or lower property values.
The council voted 6-1 to pay the economic consultant for the study. Councilman Ron Gipson voted against the contract, saying the study is not needed, because the city has no say in the matter. Although the community can discourage commercial service, FAA rules say local jurisdictions cannot ban commercial flights.
Several people came to the Everett City Council meeting Wednesday evening, encouraging the council not to go forward with the study, saying commercial flights would harm the quality of life for people who live near the airport.
They asked council members to join the cities of Mukilteo, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and Woodway, which have passed resolutions opposing commercial flights.
Meanwhile, a countywide business group has asked the city to lend its support to an effort to expanded role for the county-run airport.
As the largest city in Snohomish County and the county seat, Council President Brenda Stonecipher said, Everett would be “shirking” its leadership role if it didn’t weigh in on the Paine Field debate. But a fresh and unbiased study is needed to develop an informed opinion, she said.