Opponent fears opening the door to larger planes

EVERETT – Ileen Weber moved into a quiet south Everett condominium complex four years ago.

One of the big draws for her was the wetland on the property, a peaceful stand of trees surrounding 1,000 feet of the upper reaches of Swamp Creek, tucked into a quiet hollow on the south side of Airport Road. She says she’s seen 60 different species of birds from her rear balcony.

From that balcony, there’s a low murmur of traffic from Highway 99. But for the most part, “it’s quiet here,” Weber said.

Until the planes come.

“Sometimes they’re noisy. The Boeing planes, obviously – they’re bigger, they make more of a noise,” she said.

Weber works part time driving a Metro bus in King County because it gives her time to pursue her other interests as an amateur photographer and environmental activist.

“Quality of life is real important to me,” she said. “I’ve made some major sacrifices in my life.”

She’s holds a master’s degree in divinity and is an ordained minister, although not a practicing one. “Habitat like this,” she said, gesturing toward the trees, “has a real spiritual aspect that’s real important to me.”

Living off Airport Road, Weber said she was well aware that Snohomish County Airport, more commonly known as Paine Field, was less than two miles away when she bought the place.

“I looked into that, actually. That was a concern,” she said. “I never thought that there was any chance they’d make it into a major airport.”

The noise is tolerable, she said. She wants to keep it that way.

It wouldn’t be just the noise from passing planes that Weber says she’d object to if airlines started serving Paine Field. A busier airport would attract more vehicle traffic, adding noise and congestion to Airport Road and Highway 99.

While advocates may argue that commuter airlines would bring only quiet little planes to Paine, Weber fears they’d only be the tip of the propeller.

“There’s the very real issue of opening the door,” she said. “If you open the door, where does it stop? I don’t trust politicians. I don’t trust developers to be honest with what their plans are.”

Is there room for compromise? A little, she said.

“I’m open to hearing what the other side has to say, but it would take a lot to convince me,” she said. “They’d have to make a really good argument.

“If it comes from the politicians and developers, I’m not going to be convinced.”

Reporter Bryan Corliss: 425-339-3454 or corliss@heraldnet.com.

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