Paine Field opponents ask appeals court to reconsider
Opponents of scheduled passenger service at Paine Field got up off the mat Monday, filing for reconsideration of a Jan. 23 Court of Appeals decision that blocked efforts to stop construction of a terminal there.
The city of Mukilteo and the citizens’ group Save Our Communities (SOC) had argued that an option-to-lease agreement between Snohomish County and an East Coast developer to move forward on plans for building the passenger terminal should be held up pending results of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
But the Court of Appeals sided with the county and the developer – Propeller Airports based in New York – who argued that exercising the lease option was not a “project action” that would necessitate an EIS.
Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said Monday, “We believe that the lease option ties the County to allowing Propeller to develop a terminal, and does not allow for the full and required consideration of whether to allow air service or not.”
The appeal comes on the heals of SOC’s annual meeting on Jan. 29, which drew just 10 people, a sign, perhaps, of defeat or exhaustion after years of fighting pro-expansion forces. In past years, hundreds of residents showed up at community meetings protesting what many perceive as a threat to their quality of life.
Gregerson suggested that city leaders, at least, aren’t giving up.
“We will continue to defend the quality of life of our community and ensure we are at the table as these decisions are made,” she said.
At SOC’s annual meeting, President Mike Moore said they’re going to fight for commitments that would block potential expansion beyond the proposed two-gate terminal without further environmental studies, and would require Propeller to pay for those studies and any potential mitigation requirements.
“We’re trying to hold their feet to the fire on this element,” Moore said. “We’ve been saying no subsidies.
“If you’re not going to mitigate all these things, we don’t want the city’s taxpayers subsidizing the increased costs.”
Interestingly, the ongoing fight comes while potential air carriers have shown tepid interest, at best, for even offering service out of Paine Field. Propeller and the county have not yet nailed down any commitments.
In the past, Allegiant Air and Alaska Airline’s Horizon division have suggested they might consider flying into Paine Field.
A handful of past efforts to provide passenger service here failed.
Nicholas Johnson contributed to this story.