Mukilteo Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

Letter: City’s costly fight failed to limit Paine flights

 

August 23, 2017



Residents often ask why if someone moves next to an airport they do not expect commercial flights, as that is what airports do.

Those who have lived here a long time know our county commissioners were emphatic for many years that they would not permit Paine Field to have commercial flights. Based on those oft-repeated assurances, many homes and schools were built without concern that their environment would be disrupted by substantial noise from commercial flights.

Real estate developers and businesses pushed for commercial flights. They could make a lot of money if they could get this change. With limited support from others, Mukilteo lead to oppose their efforts.

We relied on our mayor and council, in their many confidential executive sessions, to make good decisions on whether to continue expensive litigation. Would they continue to spend huge amounts unless their attorneys, who specialized in this area of litigation, felt there was a good chance to win?

Mukilteo spent hundreds of thousands to continue litigation to the end, and lost. City budgets for the last nine years show about $700,000 in legal costs. I did not look further back.

An Aug. 10 Seattle Times article, “United Airlines will offer flights from Everett’s Paine Field in 2018,” said Mayor Jennifer Gregerson told them in May that Propeller agreed to limit commercial flights to a maximum of 22 per day and restrict commercial air operations to 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

On Thursday, the mayor told the Times this was not the case – no such agreement with Propeller. Instead, the Times said she told them it’s the Snohomish County permitting process and environmental impact analysis that imposes limits on the hours of operation and number of flights.

They found that the document she cited, the county’s Mitigated Determination of Nonsignificance, does not impose such limits. They also found that document estimates the maximum number of daily passenger flights at 16 – 32 takeoffs and landings – based on estimates of operating two gates.

However, that is not a limit. If airlines turn around planes faster, additional flights would be able to operate.

Night flights are not prohibited, but the county asked Propeller to seek voluntary agreements with the airlines to limit flights after 10 p.m. to no more than four in any 24-hour period.

It’s long since time to give residents reliable, correct information about all this spending. The final result for us: zero.

Charlie Pancerzewski Mukilteo

 

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