Group fights growth of Snohomish airport

SNOHOMISH – About 50 people are raising money and forming a grass-roots group to oppose the proposed expansion of Harvey Field.

They say that the expansion would lower their property values, increase noise problems and create safety concerns and flooding risks in the area around the 148-acre airport.

“I think it’s important to formally form a group,” said Barb Bailey, who lives near the airport.

They have gathered more than 170 signatures to fight the airport’s plan, Bailey said.

Kandace Harvey, the airport’s owner, hopes to double the airport’s hangar space and stretch a runway beyond its current boundaries over the next 20 years, according to the proposed master plan of the airport.

The plan is still developing, Harvey said Tuesday. She hasn’t heard from the opposition group, she said.

“I need to find more about what the issues are,” she said.

On Tuesday evening, about 20 people attended the Snohomish City Council meeting to oppose the airport’s expansion.

“I’m pleading with you. Please protect this community,” area resident Beth Jarvis said to the council.

State Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, and John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, also came to the meeting.

Dunshee said he is against the proposal because the expansion would occur in a flood plain. The development would build up the land and send more floodwater spilling onto adjacent properties, Dunshee said.

“I’m a taxpayer in town. I don’t want to subsidize a bad development,” he said.

Lovick didn’t say whether he favored or opposed the expansion.

An average of 326 aircraft are stored at the airport each day. The number could increase to 410 over the next 20 years, according to the airport’s master plan. The airport, a designated essential public facility, needs to grow to meet a growing demand for services, Harvey said.

“It’s a natural movement forward,” Harvey said.

But any of the proposed developments hinge upon regulations regarding construction in a flood plain.

Snohomish County is considering changing flood maps and development rules near the airport.

If the Federal Emergency Management Agency approves the changes, property owners including the airport could add buildings. The changes would loosen the rules for buildings and how much they are allowed to block flowing floodwaters.

City officials recently sent a letter to Harvey Field, asking questions about the airport’s future. The city wants to know whether the airport wants to be annexed into the city in the future.

The City Council has yet to take a stance on the airport’s master plan.

“We need some facts,” Mayor Randy Hamlin said.

The city recently scrapped its plan to build a hotel and condominiums at a 22-acre area on the Snohomish River’s shore because of the airport. The city had paid $18,700 for a consultant to develop the plan.

The area including the city’s public works yard is just across the river from the airport. State regulations prohibit high-density developments near the airport’s runways.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or ynohara@

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