Council Report Dec. 11, 2017
Rebuilding Volunteer Firefighters - Town Only Covered About 75-80
Percent of the Time Currently
Council Wants to
Ban all Marijuana Business?
by Dixie A. Walter
December 18, 2017
During citizen comments, Ron
Heslop, Eatonville's municipal court judge in Bonney Lake, spoke
about a trend he is seeing in his courtroom, and is being reported
across the country. "The major killer of individuals age 50 and
younger in this country now is not heart attacks, not cancer. It's
drug overdose. Heroin addiction is not treatable, or recoverable
without a medical component, meaning the shot. You can take care of
meth, cocaine and marijuana by counseling, and changing their ways,
but heroin is a killer. I just want to tell you that it's a serious
problem." He went on to say much of the heroin, in the form of
fentanyl is being introduced into the U.S. from China.
The other citizens commented on the ordinance before
council to set interim marijuana business regulations, and most
spoke again during the public hearing later in the meeting when the
ordinance was brought forward. Their comments are being summarized in
a separate report.
The meeting's agenda was approved, as was the consent
agenda. Police Chief Brian Witt and Fire Chief Lloyd Galey
reported on the fire on December 3 at the Eatonville Liquor Store, and
subsequent burglary. Witt said his department made a mistake in not
processing the burglary investigation as it should have, and announced
that as a takeaway from the latest Public Safety Committee meeting
discussion, his officers will be canvassing businesses in town to
compile a list including owners' name, alarm information and alarm
responders' names. The existing database will then be updated with
Galey said what many had already heard over social media,
that a volunteer firefighter, Lucas Main, driving through
town with his girlfriend, whom he had just proposed to the same day on
the Elbe Steam Train, saw the fire and immediately responded. Galey
expressed appreciation for Officer Kevin Wade, who arrived and asked
how he could help, and with very little instruction, operated the fire
hose and put water on the fire until more firefighters could respond
to the scene.
Galey also emphasized the district's on-going campaign to
re-establish and rebuild the volunteer firefighter program to
assist with coverage, which is now about 75-80 percent of the time. He
handed out a flyer for council members, which will also be posted
around town and the district. Lastly, he said he and Chief Witt will
begin a "Coffee with the Chiefs" Wednesday mornings at 9, at the Ohop
Valley Bakery, where citizens can ask questions about issues important
Town Administrator Abby Gribi reported the Planning
Commission has reviewed the Town's Draft Comprehensive Plan, and a
public hearing will soon be advertised and held sometime in January to
gain public input. She also said a town hall meeting will be held on
Wednesday, December 20 at 7 p.m. at the Community Center, with fire
officials present to provide info and answer questions about the state
of the department and the volunteer drive.
Councilmember Bill Dunn reported the ad-hoc Sign Code
Review committee will be meeting the third Monday of each month.
Mayor Mike Schaub said he and Gribi were able to engage
the new electronic locks on the public restrooms at the
Visitor Center in time for the Christmas Parade.
Ordinance 2017-14, adopting the Town's 2018 budget,
with a public hearing, passed on its second reading with all in
favor. Schaub described two small changes in the budget, one involving
some rehab work at Town Hall, and the other to
canvassing effort to regain a higher compliance rate among pet owners.
Ordinance 2017-15, also on its second reading,
setting interim regulations for recreational marijuana businesses,
received lengthy debate with a series of motions brought forward. The
ordinance itself eventually failed, in a roll call vote of 2-3, with
Dunn and Walter voting "yes," Schrimpsher, Thomas and Hannah voting
"no." Councilmember James Schrimpsher then moved the council begin the
process of banning the production, processing and retail sale of
marijuana until an advisory vote can be held on the issue. That motion
passed, 4-1, with Walter the only "no" vote.
In new business, Council member Jennie Hannah was
elected Mayor Pro-Tem while Council member Bill Dunn was
elected Alternate Mayor Pro-Tem.
Bob Walter had been pet license canvassing for four years, as part
of a personal
services contract with the town, established before he was elected to
During that time, license compliance was higher and
license revenues were several thousand dollars greater than currently.
Mayor Schaub ended that canvassing service over a year ago, saying he felt it could be
construed as a conflict of interest. However, after Walter was elected
the personal services contract had been found not to be
conflict of interest.
Now that pet license sales have dropped
precipitously, the mayor plans to re-institute the service,
contracting with someone else.)
Report Nov. 13, 2017
Construction Halted at Intersection - New Stoplight Won't be
Installed Until Spring
Christmas Parade Saturday, December 2
Louise Van Eaton Asked Council
to be More Polite to Each Other
by Dixie A. Walter
November 19, 2017
Mike Schaub and Councilmember James Schrimpsher were both absent as
was Town Administrator Abby Gribi.. Councilmember Bob Thomas
served as mayor pro-tem.
In citizen comments, Louise Van Eaton
said that at the previous council meeting, the members were
interrupting one another a lot during their discussion. She said
it was unfortunate this occurred when there was a larger-than-usual
audience in attendance, and wished council members would do a better
job of allowing one another to finish their comments.
Police Chief Brian Witt reported the Christmas
Parade will be Saturday, December 2. He also said there have been
some burglaries and vandalism which he believes is being committed by
the same few juveniles.
Bob Walter (chair of council's Parks & Recreation Committee) commented
on the recent case in which the bowl at the skate park had been
stuffed with items and flooded, repaired by the town crew, and then a
kitten had been found in the same storm drain. He said he feels it
unlikely that a kitten would jump down into the bowl, let alone go
down a steep, four-inch drain on its own, and believes it's more
likely a case of deliberate cruelty.
Fire District 17 Chief Lloyd Galey said more
volunteers are becoming eligible to work in Eatonville in the
resident program, and encouraged people to become involved if they
are interested in a career in the fire service field. He said to call
the district's administrative office at the Mountain Highway station.
Prospective volunteers can receive training evenings and weekends at
the volunteer academy. The district will soon begin a program at the
middle school, educating students about careers as firefighter/EMTs,
and opportunities to become cadets.
Town Clerk Kathy Linnemeyer gave an update for Town
Administrator Abby Gribi, who will be back at the next
meeting. Linnemeyer said construction has been halted on the
Washington Avenue stoplight and traffic re-alignment project. The type
of signal to be installed is on back-order, and construction will
resume in early spring. Because of this, and the colder weather, any
further concrete pours will also be delayed until that time.
Linnemeyer also said that since the council
had authorized making additional payments on the house on
Rainier Avenue behind the fire station, that it has been paid off six
months early, and the last payment was made in October.
Council member Bill Dunn said the Public Safety
Committee met the previous Tuesday, where the fire department was
the main topic. He said the discussion was "passionate and spirited,"
and he considered it a good first step in addressing the department's
challenges. They also discussed holding town hall-type meetings to
stimulate public input.
Airport Discussion Postponed...
Walter said he had
planned to make some comments about discussions at the October 9
meeting about the 10-year-old quit claim deed relating to the
airport runway property. He said council member Schrimpsher had
reported the issue being discussed in the Public Safety and Finance
Committees, but Walter requested to view them and found there have
been no minutes submitted for the entire year.
He said he will bring the
issue up at the next regular council meeting when Schrimpsher is
present to respond, then pointed out that, according to the
committee policy approved by the council, committee co-chairs who
attend the meetings cannot be compensated unless the chair sees to it
that agendas and minutes are submitted, to be on file in the clerk's
office for the public to access.
Unfinished and New Business...
In unfinished business,
Ordinance 2017-11, amending the town's 2017 budget, passed with
all in favor.
In new business, Resolution 2017-DD, confirming the
appointment of citizens Rich Williams, Karen Woodcock, Alana Smith
and Kirk Heinz to the ad-hoc sign committee, also passed with all in
In council comments, Dunn
recognized and thanked three members of Girl Scout Troop 41428, for
attending the meeting and earning their government badges,
learning about how local government operates. He also thanked their
troop leaders for their involvement.
Dunn then added to his previous comments about the fire
department. He has read on social media, talked with
citizens and overheard comments, and his main concern is that many of
them, and resulting opinions, are based on misinformation, when they
should be based on facts. He urged people with questions about the
status of the fire department call the people with firsthand knowledge
- the fire chief, the mayor, town admin, town council members.
Dunn added that Chief Galey inherited a very difficult
situation, and he appreciates the transparency Galey has
shown in attempting to meet the challenges. He said fire service in
town comes down to how much the town can afford to spend, which comes
down to what residents are willing to pay. He said assigning blame
related to negotiations of the current contract is not the solution,
and the current agreement is not sustainable, adding that more public
participation is the key. He then reiterated what Chief Galey said
about contacting the fire department if you or someone you know is
interested in becoming a volunteer.
Walter added to his comments about the kitten found in the
skate park storm drain. He credited the town's water utility crew
for their work in trying to rescue the stuck animal, saying he was
nearby and came over to help when they spent about three hours on
Friday working at it. They left an anchored rope hanging in the drain
that evening, hoping the kitten would be able to pull itself out when
things quieted down. Some kids heard its cries the following morning
and alertly called 911.
Walter went on to credit
police Officer Jagveer Gill and firefighters responding from the
Eatonville station house, John Walsh and Corey Kneeshaw,
for successfully using a catch-pole to loop a noose over the kitten's
head and gently pull it up out of the four-inch pipe. This time the
kitten seemed a bit more cooperative in showing its head, which
allowed the rescue to succeed. He said Walsh's wife offered to take it
home and help it recover, and the kitten has been adopted by the
Council member Jennie Hannah asked the girl scouts
if they had any questions for council about town
government. The scout leader asked council for their opinions on what
makes a responsible citizen. Hannah replied those are citizens who
look out for each other, and treat others as they like to be treated.
Walter told them to be engaged and not to underestimate the importance
of their role and their voice as citizens in the community.
Dunn added that simply helping
someone when you can, volunteering in the community, helping
others, and making someone smile with a kind word, will help them to
go far. Thomas urged them to be engaged, involved, to vote in
elections once they reach voting age, and that one cannot criticize
unless one is first willing to learn the facts and take steps to fix
what has become broken.
The meeting was adjourned
at 7:32 pm.
Note: See October 23 Report below regarding Van Eaton's citizen's
October 23, 2017
Eatonville Airport Discussion Gets Contentious
Future of Airport Hot Button Issue Again
Dixie A. Walter
October 26, 2017
Agency Receives $1,000
Check from Rod Knockers...
town council meeting, representatives from Rod Knockers attended to
report on this summer's car show and presented a check for $1,000
to the Eatonville Family Agency.
Items Pass Easily...
items of business were passed unanimously, including the first reading
of Ordinance 2017-11, a budget amendment, Resolution 2017-BB
authorizing a disaster mitigation plan letter of agreement, Ordinance
2017-12, the first reading, authorizing collection of the Regular Tax
Levy for 2018, and Ordinance 2017-13, the first reading, authorizing
collection of the EMS Levy for 2018.
During agenda review council member Bob Thomas made
two motions to add to the agenda. He moved to add
discussion on reconstituting the Airport Committee, and to enter into
another discussion on entering into a lease of the airport runway with
Landings at Mt. Rainier, LLC. Both motions were seconded and passed.
Field's (Eatonville Airport) Future Again Dominates Debate...
After the other new
business was acted upon, Thomas's motions were discussed, at length.
When the discussion on his first motion began, Thomas
explained that although the operations at Swanson Field
impact most of the council committees, the scope of the current
discussion about the airport far exceeds the area of responsibility of
the Finance Committee or the Public Safety Committee. He went on to
say the scope of the current discussion is inappropriate for those
other committees, though airport operations do impact both of them.
He said the decision [by the mayor] not to have the
Airport Commission meeting troubled him. So he contacted
the Municipal Research and Services Center. "MRSC said that
terminating or suspending the meetings of the Airport Commission
should have been an action of the council and not an action of the
mayor," Thomas stated.
Thomas: "If I had realized the trouble we were heading for, I
would never have moved to stand down the Airport Committee.
At the time of my recommendation to stand down the Airport Committee,
the Airport Commission was up and running, and I didn't really foresee
any issues the committee was handling that the commission couldn't
Schrimpsher disagreed, saying everything affecting the
budget has to go through the Finance Committee. He asked
staff how many Airport Commission meetings have been cancelled. Town
administrator Abby Gribi replied, "The September meeting wasn't
cancelled. It was agreed between staff and all the commissioners that
a quarterly meeting of the commission was sufficient. So the next
regularly scheduled meeting would have been October - this month - and
that was, the mayor suspended the meeting until the council made a
Thomas: "In what way is this different from any other
meeting or any other subject that any other committee meets
on and then brings forward recommendations on. Granted, the issues
need to be discussed by the entire council, but right now, you have no
advisory body at all, to study the issues and then come back on it."
Next came a debate on Thomas's second motion, discussing a
lease. As he saw it, "I think it's in the community's best
interests that the airport remains a public airport. There's no
guarantee of that, despite public ownership, until the
*comp plan and our
municipal code reflect our desires and vision for the airport, and
where we're going to go in terms of transportation and the economy.
Right now there's no guidance out there whatsoever. I took a look at
the draft of our comp plan, and it's not really a significant
improvement in terms of what was out there previously.
"So again, Rainier
Landings has come forward, and for a token amount, has basically
offered to act as a caretaker of the airport, until such
time as the town has incorporated into the comp plan and the code,
provisions to maintain and promote the airport as a public asset. I
see their role essentially as a trustee to guarantee the future of the
airport as a public facility. I don't see a downside to that. Entering
into a lease agreement with Rainier Landings is probably the only way
to guarantee that outcome."
Mayor Schaub replied, "I will disagree with that."
Council member Bob Walter pointed out the town attorney Greg
Jacoby advised council at the last meeting that entering into such
a lease agreement with the owners of the runway property would, in
essence, create a public airport. Schaub responded the town would have
the paperwork necessary to be covered on its insurance, but added that
it goes against the airport layout plan.
Schaub addressed Thomas again, "It almost sounds like
you're trying to hold hostage, that--because I look at our
municipal code. We address aerospace, and we have land use in the
aerospace, which was talked about in the comp plan, of incompatible
uses, and trying to minimize [them] around the airport. If that's
going to change then the land use code would have to change, if you're
going to make any changes to it, of what council would want to have
around the aerospace district is a land use issue. .
"Like I said,
It's in [the] code of having items addressed of what would be
allowable uses of it. And if that was going to change that
would require council to go through and make changes. It has nothing
to do with the comp plan, because it's right in line with what the
comp plan says right now. You don't have a typical, municipal airport
as it stands. Even the airport layout plan states that it's full of
"That going forward, I mean it sounds like, and
that's kind of what I'm getting from your comments last
meeting, this meeting, that no one had faith in the town to be
able to own the airport, and the runway, and be able to go forward
"I see a private
ownership change, which was, again, a difference in where the plan
was, and all the discussion that I've ever been involved in with
the airport was all going toward town ownership...and holding it
hostage, saying no comp plan, no nothing until the airport's
addressed, it's like, I looked to the--the airport is addressed in the
comp plan. There may not be the detail, but the comp plan isn't a
step-by-step detailed plan. It's looking at what you're expecting in
the next 20 years."
Thomas: "Exactly. And all the inputs that the airport
commission made, and my inputs to the planning commission,
have gone wholly unincorporated."
Schaub: "Well, you were wanting to take something
that's a full, municipal airport, and all rights, and then trying
to put it on something that's really a very incompatible use facility
right now. And I don't know if all those items actually make sense
into it. And as we get into public hearings and all that, that can
come out and change. That's part of the process, if you would not
agree with that process...We bring forth a draft. It goes to the
public comments into the sections. And we get the comments from
Commerce and the Puget Sound Regional Council before we put forward
our draft for approval."
Schrimpsher: "As a council member, my whole intention is
for that field to be a public airfield, not a private-public
entity. And here's my reasoning: We cannot get grants to improve
the airfield. We cannot get any kind of federal money."
Thomas: "The only viable option to preserve and protect
the airport as a public airport, for the short term or the long
term, in my opinion, is to enter into a lease, until we can get our
act together as a municipality, and figure out how to govern the
Walter: "I agree. I think that---"
(Interrupted by Schrimpsher) "So, I make---*point
of order! I make a motion that we table this discussion,
until legal finding can be done on entering into an agreement. We do a
normal- Point of order. We do a normal-any agreement we enter into has
to be scrutinized by legal council, correct? So when is the second
council meeting in November?
Thomas: "Why would--"
(Schrimpsher interrupts again) "Wait!" I'm asking Abby, when
is the second council meeting in November?" (Gribi:
"November 27.") Schrimpsher: "I make a motion that we table this. And
I'm going to put a deadline on it, so it gets brought back up, and
I'll be the one to bring it back up. I make a motion that we table
this discussion to allow*city
administration to do its due diligence, until the November 22nd
council meeting." [Seconded by Dunn]
Schaub: "Alright, with a motion and a second. Any further
Thomas: "Why on Earth would the city attorney not verify all
that in the course of entering into a lease agreement with
Rainier Landings? It makes your motion pointless. All of that
information is going to be verified as part of the process."
Schrimpsher: "The city attorney is not the only one that
has to get a look at this. The insurance company is going to have
to look at this as well. And that would give city admin plenty of time
to send it to RMSA (the Town's insurance carrier, Risk Management
Service Agency), to have it looked at, and have their eyes go over it,
because they're the ones that are going to be insuring any land that a
lease would cover."
Schaub: "Let's go with this piece-"
Thomas: "All of that would be in due course of entering into
a lease agreement. So what you're doing right now is essentially a
city council filibuster."
Schaub: "Let's go with, if they want to come forward with
bringing a lease agreement to the town, to be able to
review, and have our legal staff review it. So be it. We'll go through
Schrimpsher: "Are you asking that the motion be amended,
if a lease agreement is brought to the city, that due
diligence be done, and it be brought forward on the November 22nd
agenda? Is that what you're asking?"
Schaub: "It's going to take time. So, I'm---"
(Again interrupting Schrimpsher asks: "Is that what you're
asking, Mr. Mayor?"
Schaub: "I'm not-I'm-at a future date. If you guys pick the
27th, that's fine."
Schrimpsher: "So, can we poll the council? Is November 22nd
an adequate time to give?"
Schaub: "22 or 27?" [November 27 was again confirmed as
the correct meeting date for the second November meeting.]
[Gribi said she will be out of the office from November 3
to the 20th.]
Schrimpsher: "So, let's poll the council [begins polling].
Council member Hannah?"
Hannah: "There's simply too many unanswered questions at this
point for me to vote yes to enter into any agreement, because it's
just a blanket statement. I don't know what I'm agreeing to. So
there's a lot more
Schaub: "And again, the town has not seen a lease come
in-any paperwork coming in. So we have nothing to look at
right now. I mean that's kind of the starting point, of any lease."
Schaub (answering a question from the audience by Rick
Adams of Landings Boar Member and Airport Commission
member): "It would have to go to legal before anything. And then it
would have to come to council which was with anything. So with that--"
[tries to be heard over other people speaking at once]. Point of
order! It's going to keep---!"
[Interrupted by Schrimpsher] "Read the motion, Kathy." The
motion was read again.
Walter said, "I don't see why the new owners of the runway
and the town administration can't have informal
discussions. What's preventing that from happening?"
Hannah moved to amend the motion to include at least one
study session during that time period, at which Schrimpsher
amended his own motion to include this. The amended motion was passed,
3-2, with Thomas and Walter voting "No."
The increasingly contentious meeting was adjourned at 8:21
Note: Point of Order Definition: A
term of parliamentary law and procedure which refers to an
interjection during a meeting by a member, who does not have the
floor, to call the attention of the chair to an alleged violation or
breach of the assembly’s or meeting’s rules of order.
Plan - Comprehensive planning is a process that determines
community goals and aspirations in
terms of community development. The outcome of comprehensive
planning is the Comprehensive Plan which dictates public policy in
terms of transportation, utilities, land use, recreation, and housing.
is a "town" not a "city" - there is a difference.)
October 9, 2017
by Dixie A. Walter
October 21, 2017
A budget study session preceded the
council meeting at 6:30. Another will precede the next council
meeting on October 23.
Other than two guest presentations, there was no
unfinished business, and no new business, on this council
meeting agenda, other than a discussion of the Eatonville Airport,
also known as Swanson Field. It turned out to be a long discussion.
Georgia Lomax, Executive Director of the
nationally-recognized, award-winning Pierce County Library System,
gave a presentation on the system's services and strategic plan.
The library system provides materials for leisurely consumption as
well as educational and career research, and the welcoming spaces to
provides the chance to keep up with advancing technology, offers
skill-building classes and events, and builds community through
such programs as Pierce County Reads, in which everyone is encouraged
to read and discuss the same, usually best-selling, book. As its
strategic framework, shaped by 12,000 responses to a 2016 survey,
states, "People have a sense of belonging and embrace the diversity of
Lomax praised Eatonville Branch Librarian Cindy Dargan,
and the branch's high rate of use relative to other branch
locations. Patrons here have logged nearly 300,000 reading minutes in
this year's summer reading program.
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist presented to the
council about the public safety initiatives he is spearheading.
James Lynch, formerly an on-air reporter for Q-13 Fox news, who now
handles communications for the prosecutor's office, along with
requests for public appearances or programs, accompanied Lindquist.
The High Priority Offender (HPO) program - as Lindquist
stated, the first on the west coast, and sometimes referred to as
data-driven prosecution - has helped get repeat offenders longer
sentences and get them off the streets. These are career criminals,
such as burglars and thieves, and this program is unrelated to
Washington's three-strikes-you're out law, which pertains to
more violent felons such as murderers and rapists.
Lindquist formed the Elder Abuse Unit a few years ago. It
provides a more comprehensive approach to physical, emotional,
sexual and financial abuse of seniors, coordinating with other
agencies to spread information about the red flags to watch for, that
indicate a senior may be being abused, and to prosecute those
The third program mentioned, also spearheaded by Lindquist
along with his predecessor Gerry Horne, the fight for a
Fair Share, pushed the passage of a state bill that prevents the
release, by the Department of Corrections, of a disproportionate
number of offenders on parole into Pierce County, and instead arranges
for their release back into the communities where they were arrested
and tried. For years a much higher percentage of parolees were
released in Pierce County. Now the numbers reflect a more fair
distribution, and even though our county is booming, its crime rate
has been dropping.
What is Next at Swanson Field?...
Next Mayor Mike Schaub opened the discussion of the Eatonville
Airport [also known as Swanson Field, after one of the
families instrumental in its construction in 1952], describing the
change of ownership, two weeks ago, of two of three parcels that cover
the length of the airport's runway, which were acquired from the
Burlingame family by Landings at Mt. Rainier, LLC. He talked about a
2010 ordinance that was drafted but never brought forward to council,
and a related quit claim deed which was notarized in 2007, but the
original has not been located. Research by staff found no answers as
to why this happened.
Schaub added the Municipal Research and Services
Agency's risk management division has informed the town
that the airport cannot continue to be insured as a public-private
airport, that it must be one or the other. He said the town is
fortunate there has been no major accident or claim against the town,
that the current "hybrid" status of the airport means coverage will
cease at the end of this year, and the town will not be able renew its
policy without either acquiring all of the runway property or leasing
it from its new, private owners. He added that the cost of purchasing
the two private parcels could very well be cost-prohibitive to the
town without state or federal grants.
Council member Robert Thomas stated, "I think the airport
is potentially a great asset to the town. If there's no
existing revenue stream, then it's through either intentional or
unintentional neglect of the airport...The other part that we should
be addressing, and I'm not comfortable that we are adequately, is in
the comprehensive management plan, because that lays the bedrock, the
strategic vision for the entire community.
seems like the airport has not adequately been addressed in the comp
plan, and if you don't address it in the comp plan, then there's
no reasonable expectation of going forward with any kind of coherent
economic or any other plans surrounding the airport. So. basically the
airport, up to this point, has just languished for lack of attention.
I think some of the people at the airport now have a vision for the
airport that it may actually produce a revenue stream.
"And I still think that in terms of our proximity to Rainier and
the reservoirs around here and skiing and so forth, it's an
underutilized resource. I've been saying for a year and a half now
that we need some parking space at the airport, and yet we have let
that property be developed for other purposes.
"So it's now I think probably beyond the city council's point to
acquire that as a public property, but we can still as a
city enter into an economic partnership with the people alongside the
airstrip, if they choose to engage in an aerospace-related business."
Schaub said things seem to be moving toward private
ownership, and economic development is an option for those owners.
He added that since the Airport Commission was established [after the
Airport Committee's last meeting on August 22], "and from that date
going forward, nothing ever took place with it. and it became a lost
Thomas: "We need to hear from Landings at Mt.
Rainier and see what they want to do [regarding the airport
and the runway]." Schaub countered that it's up to each of the private
landowners in the vicinity of the runway how they want to develop
their property per our code. Thomas replied that in that case, the
only option would be to enter a lease with Rainier Landings to
maintain the runway.
Councilmember James Schrimpsher pointed out,
as another option,*eminent
domain could be utilized
to acquire the two
parcels of the runway in private ownership, "without causing any undo
harm" to anyone, since they just changed hands for $10. He said the
only question before the council is whether to go completely private
or public, and if it's the former, the town should sell the
northernmost parcel for fair market value.
Schaub said the recent action taken so quickly by
Landings at Mount Rainier when the town was preparing to acquire
the middle parcel indicate they don't want the airstrip to go the
public route. Thomas responded that as a city councilman, he has a
hard time arguing with them, saying, "Since the Airport Layout Plan
was published, the city has not demonstrated a commensurate level of
stewardship with the airport property, to where I would be comfortable
with eminent domain. That should be a last resort."
Schrimpsher said the recent filing of a quit claim deed,
after the town expressed the intent of acting on a copy of the
quit claim deed of ten years ago, borders on an ethics violation,
since one of the members of Landings at Mount Rainier is an appointed
member of the Airport Commission. Thomas asked, "Were you aware that
that [recent] quit claim deed was filed after the city was going to
file a [ten-year-old] quit claim deed without entering into any
negotiations or communication with Mrs. Burlingame?"
Schrimpsher: "No, No! It was just merely discussed as an
Schaub: "If you go through the discussion, we have a
signed quit claim deed. The $10 just never, you know, the
nominal amount just didn't take place, because council-- it was going
to council. It didn't go through. We have a quit claim deed that's
notarized, signed by the landowner."
Thomas: "I was at the Airport Commission meeting."
Schaub: "Right. We just said we were going to go
forward because we had this and pursue it."
Schrimpsher: "It would still require action by the
Gribi: "(garbled) going to engage in a conversation
with Sharon Burlingame to let her know our intent."
Schaub: "Yeah, it wasn't to go file it and take it.
That was never the intent of the discussion."
Schrimpsher: It was also discussed at the Finance
Committee meeting before the Airport Commission meeting.
It was also discussed at Public Safety. So, it wasn't a secret.
But still, you know, none of us here acted on that."
Walter: "Is that in the minutes of the Public Safety
Schrimpsher: "Ah, I think it was one of the topics. I
have a notebook if you would like-I keep a notebook of the Public
Walter said he agrees with council member Thomas
that the airport is potentially a huge asset that has not been
realized. "And with the controversies involved in the single-family
residential development that was proposed there and has been litigated
and discussed for, how many years now, eleven? [The final plat was
eventually approved and construction of the houses has begun.] I've
had concerns about. Is the town doing all it can to develop and
cultivate the economic value to the town of that airport?"
Schaub posed the question, does the airstrip need to
be one over the other (private over public, or vice versa),
because, he said, either way, all the land around the three parcels
that include the runway are privately owned, so development in that
area would be private development. Walter added that development would
still have to follow the zoning restrictions for the aerospace
Schaub and Schrimpsher both said the intent of
language of the documents from the 1990's was for the town to
pursue municipal ownership of the airport. Schrimpsher, "I think we
have one question before us: Public or private? That's the way I see
it. I don't see a way moving forward with a partnership."
Thomas replied, "I disagree. I think that a lease is
the best option, because the decision of public or private is
precipitous until we figure out what we want to do with the comp
plan. Because public ownership of the airport without a strategic
vision for the airport in the comp plan, is probably the death
sentence for the airport."
Town attorney Greg Jacoby was present, and said he did not
see the town leasing two parcels and owning the third
parcel a problem from an insurance perspective. Schrimpsher asked him
if he didn't see a potential ethics problem with one of the board
members [Rick Adams] of the corporation the town would be leasing from
[Landings at Mr. Rainier, LLC], also sitting on the Airport
Commission. Jacoby said he would have to research that, but added that
Thomas's suggestion of leasing the two private parcels would
definitely be one solution to avoiding a partnership - that it would
then, in effect, be a public airstrip.
Thomas also asked what, if any, legal advice was
given by the town attorney about liability back when the
town purchased the northernmost parcel, and whether there was any
record of that advice. Schaub and he and staff had not found any
record of that.
Schaub said he wanted council to discuss, before the
insurance renewal is due at the end of the year, what would be in
the town's long term, best interest going forward, and how to proceed,
but added he'd love to have discussion on the benefits in the airport
being municipal, but then seemed to argue for ownership over leasing,
by saying, "We carry all risks towards it, and really don't have the
use of the airstrip as other municipalities would with the ones that
Councilmember Jennie Hannah, "With the town's (garbled)
aviation interest, I would prefer for it to remain as a public
facility, but we've essentially been cut off at the knees, when we had
every expectation that the other two parcels would become ours.
that's not going to be the case, I don't know that the town of
Eatonville has any point in being in the airpark business. We own
nothing around the airstrip; we can't build, nor would we. I don't
like the idea of [using] eminent domain. So hopefully there is some
form of agreement that we can reach, that would keep the airport
public. But I also would entertain selling that piece."
Schaub: "It's not you're typical public
airstrip, even if we owned all the runway...because of not owning
the land around, to be able to, to want security, to have
development for the municipality, to have operations, and running it
as a public facility."
Thomas asked the mayor if the town has asked
WSDOT (Washington State Department of Transportation) for
their take on the issue. Schaub said not at this time, then added the
town will pursue it. Jacoby asked Thomas what he would like the town
to ask WSDOT, to which Thomas replied, "Do they have any thoughts or
regulatory input into turning the airport into a private airport?"
The consensus seemed to be the council needs to hear
from Rainier Landings about what they want to do.
Schrimpsher, while saying at one point he hated
eminent domain and would consider it only as a last resort,
argued that there were numerous justifications for it in RCW Chapter
Thomas said he doesn't feel eminent domain is a
viable option, "maybe a technical option, but not a viable one. I
think a lease is a viable option and probably the best one now, until
the city demonstrates the capability, one way or the other, through
the development of the comp plan, that it can responsibly manage the
Schrimpsher: "You make mention of this comp plan,
but I've been asking for the comp plan for, what, six, eight
months, and I haven't even seen a rough draft."
Thomas: "I've been going to the Planning Commission
meetings, and I haven't seen the airport included in the
Schaub said there has been a comp plan draft drawn
up, but added there is still a long process ahead, including
public hearings, before a comp plan is approved.
Hannah asked Gribi if she could set up a meeting
with the newest runway landowners to find out their thoughts
on how best to move forward.
Note - Eminent Domain
- "Legal doctrine of the right and inherent power of a
government to take private property (such as
land) for public use (such as for bridges, canals, roads) on
reimbursing the owner with fair market value of the property.")
Pierce Conservation District Discussion...
Mayor Schaub then began a discussion about whether the
council wanted to have a vote on becoming a member community of
the Pierce Conservation District. Walter had invited Ryan Mello,
Executive Director of that body, to come and give a presentation to
the council at the previous meeting.
Schrimpsher said he was confused, by what Mello said
versus what his slides showed, about whether there was a flat,
annual fee for all residential property owners or a fee based on
Schaub feels that with our relationship with the
Nisqually Tribe and the Nisqually Land Trust we're already ahead
in terms of conservation efforts than could be achieved through
membership, but added that we can revisit the question each year of
whether to join. He believed the annual fee for residential parcels
was $10. (It will be $7.25 in 2018, and increase by one dollar in the
following two years, then flatten out at $10 in 2021 and beyond.)
Walter pointed out the PCD's grant awards and other
sources for its program revenue matched the amount
generated by the per-parcel charge.
Thomas said he would probably vote no, and questioned what
the cost/benefit ratio of "urban agriculture" would be for town
Hannah is not willing to pass the fee along to her
constituents at this time, but may be at a later date.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:24 pm.
July 24, 2017
by Dixie A. Walter
July 30, 2017
approval, Louise Van Eaton commented, saying that when she looked at a
copy of the council agenda, she couldn’t understand what Ordinance
2017-4 (”…acquisition of personal property…”) pertained to, and
suggested the agenda items be briefly described in plain English, as
is done in the voter’s pamphlet.
could also be posted on the town website prior to meetings. She also
asked about those times when the council moves to pass an
ordinance on the first reading (eliminating a second reading at the
next meeting), often resulting in its passage the first time it comes
before the public.
Councilmember Bob Walter said he appreciated her concern
about passing ordinances too quickly, and has voted against
passing some ordinances on the first reading, that are not necessarily
time-sensitive, and that are so important they call for two
readings. He added he has voted yes at times to passage of ordinances
on one reading that are time-sensitive.
David Babcock, owner of Sunrise Motors, also spoke, about
letters sent by the Town administrator to property owners
directing them to remedy nuisances such as tall grass and junk
vehicles. He received a letter about each. He felt he was being
Town Administrator Abby
Gribi said three or four letters went out pertaining to junk
vehicles, and about 15 letters pertaining to tall grass and
vegetation debris. Council member James Schrimpsher pointed out that
according to state law, as a licensed vehicle dealer, if he erected a
visual barrier fence around the junk vehicle property, he would be in
Out Against Crime
Police Chief Brian Witt
reported there was a good turnout at the planning meeting/BBQ at the
Visitor Center about the upcoming National Night Out [against
crime] on Tuesday, August 1. He hoped there would be five or six block
parties around town that evening, and said the department will be
helping with street barricades and visiting the block parties to chat
with residents. All the officers will be working that evening.
is Beginning to Concern Again
In the public works
report, Abby Gribi talked about the need for water conservation this
time of year. “Right now we’re very close to what capacity we can
produce in water. And with the heat that we’ve had, and irrigation
systems going on, we’re just barely able to maintain the levels.
We’re not ever really
gaining any water levels in our reservoir. So just be mindful; turn
off the hose if you’re not using it. I’ve talked with the
schools; they had some sprinkler heads that were watering concrete, to
help adjust down, that huge user…So it’s just something to be aware
of, at what level of capacity that we can produce the water.
In committee reports,
Councilmember Jennie Hannah said the Public Utilities Committee
reviewed the need for a third skid, or filter, in the water
treatment plant, which was incorporated in its design since it was
build. The two existing filters run at 85 to 90 percent capacity 24/7,
so there is little opportunity to provide the level of maintenance
they need, without that third skid being installed. The only time
either of them can be brought offline is for the “wash cycle.” One of
the filters is already in need of re-valving, but the focus this time
of year by necessity must be on keeping them both online and
A plan is needed to address repair and upgrades of the
existing water system. Gribi said if one of the filters went
down, it would require immediate, emergency water conservation
restrictions until it could be brought back online. There is also the
risk, if the reservoirs were depleted, of a backflow issue throughout
the town. Surges in pressure related to low reservoir levels could
also break seals in the system – another serious potential problem.
Mayor Mike Schaub said without more redundancy – i.e., a third skid –
that if one of the filters went down, the town would be “on its knees”
and unable to provide water.
Walter asked about the newest reservoir on the ridge above the
Hamner Springs development being limited in terms of which areas
it serves. Gribi said that is true, and that pressure relief valves
would need to be installed before that reservoir could be connected to
the water lines in the rest of town, because it is so much higher than
the other neighborhoods. An engineering study would be needed to
determine the cost effectiveness of such a step. Walter pointed out
that if doing so was found to be cost-effective, at least storage
capacity could be increased to supply peak periods.
She added the older concrete reservoir in the Hilltop
neighborhood serves 85 percent of the town. Schaub said the
roof on the Hilltop reservoir is problematic, as it does not have
support beams. The water superintendent has met with the mayor and
administrator to discuss possible solutions. Schaub wants to start
planning, saying “our ERU (equivalent residential users) capability is
close to being maxed out without another water source.” About 70 ERUs
will be all that are left after existing in-process developments are
Letters Causing Controversy
The contract [with the
low bidder] for the Highway 161 [Washington Avenue] upgrade project
will be on the agenda at the next council meeting on August 14. A
new mower is being ordered, the current one having provided 14 years
of service and reaching the end of its useful life.
Councilmember Walter asked if the nuisance letters sent
out were in response to complaints or just after
observation by town staff. Gribi said several have been based on
complaints, and residents are encouraged to report suspected
violations. She added that Tim Lincoln, the building inspector, is
also the inspector for code compliance, also watches for violations,
and forwards them to the administrator. It’s the property owner, or
the landlord in the case of rentals, who is responsible.
Walter said he feels the maintenance of trees along the
town right-of-ways should be something the town monitor, removing
high-risk trees or branches near power lines. He asked Gribi if it
made any difference as far as property owner responsibilities in
maintaining grass and weeds, whether the street was improved with
curbs and sidewalks, or was still unimproved. She replied there was no
difference as far as who was receiving letters.
Councilmember Bill Dunn asked if the letter is a form
letter. Gribi said yes, it is, to which Dunn commented, if the
first sentence, referring to complaints from surrounding property
owners, was not replaced in those situations in which the violation
was simply observed by the town, it would lead all those receiving the
letter to believe it’s because of their neighbors’ complaints,
irrespective of whether that is what generated it. He said it seems to
be passing the buck on every complaint, to neighbor issues.
Schrimpsher reported on the Finance Committee. He urged
council members to view the punch list at town hall of capital
projects needing to be addressed. He said the water superintendent has
found a source for a new filter at a savings of $15,000, which the
committee recommends purchasing. Also, purchasing a another vehicle
for public works, and the new mower. The committee also discussed
establishing a new position sharing duties in wastewater and other
public works areas.
In new business, Ordinance 2017-4 authorizing the purchase of
another police vehicle and its financing contract, passed 4-1, with
Walter voting no. Resolution 2017-V approved a small works
construction project with Town & Country Paving for emergency pavement
repairs. It passed with all in favor. Resolution 2017-W approved a
janitorial services contract with Northwest Cleaning Service. It also
passed with all in favor.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:13 p.m.
May 22, 2017 Town Council Report...
by Dixie A. Walter
May 29, 2917
Council members present were Jennie Hannah, Bob Thomas,
Bill Dunn and Bob Walter. Councilmember James Schrimpsher was
excused as was Mayor Mike Schaub. Councilmember Hannah served as mayor
pro-tem for the meeting.
Questions Lack of Fire Department Personnel as His Truck Burned...
Town resident and former town council member Mike Gallagher commented
on the lack of fire personnel at the Eatonville fire house. He
said it would have been nice for the town, when it still had fire
fighters stationed in town, to send them out and suggest to people to
have a fire extinguisher at the ready in case of fire, because
“they’re on their own.”
Gallagher said, “My truck burned in the street here, a
hundred yards from the fire house the other day. Had there been
somebody in the fire house that day, they could have come out and put
the fire out. I’d have had several hundred dollars worth of damage
done to my truck. As it is, it’s several thousand dollars damage to my
truck. Burnt through the firewall, burnt the cab, destroyed the whole
truck. Which it wouldn’t have done, had there been a timely response.
“I’m just wondering how you all would have felt if I had died
in that truck…Maybe I have my seatbelt on, reading my
mail, didn’t catch it fast enough, couldn’t get out, died of smoke
inhalation. I mean that’s entirely possible. Right? I mean that’s not
that far-fetched. And yet you people didn’t find it important enough
to come to some sort of agreement with South Pierce [Fire & Rescue] to
man that station.
“And I know you’re going to tell me, that you don’t have the
money. Well, none of us have any money! We didn’t have any money
back in the fifties and sixties and seventies, when Eatonville Fire
Station was manned full-time…and we had plenty of volunteers….I wish
you would really look at doing something. And EMS also. We’ve got a
lot of old people, and I’m getting to be one of them. And the elderly
are going to need EMS.”
Administrator Abby Gribi Tries
to Explain Lack of Personnel...
Councilmember Bob Thomas asked, “What’s our manpower levels and shift
schedules at the fire department?”
Town Administrator Abby Gribi replied, “It’s 24 hours out of
the Northwest Trek location…during this 90-day period that they’re
having some staffing issues. They’re short five staff. One has left to
go work somewhere else, and the other four are out on FMLA (Family
Medical Leave Act).” We have [Assistant Chief] Sam [Yount] when he’s
here, for medical [calls], and volunteers whenever we can get them.”
Police Chief Brian Witt reported a couple of apparently
homeless travelers have been seen in town - one with a goat, the
other seen sleeping on town benches and roadsides. They have not
broken any laws, and are being monitored. Witt has offered them rides
and bus tickets to reach the services available in Pierce County. He
asked town residents to report if they witness any illegal activity.
Later during council comments the issues of the fire department was
discussed again. Councilmember Thomas expressed concern
about whether South Pierce Fire and Rescue, during the 90-day period
in which staffing is being affected by the family leave being taken,
was providing the manpower levels agreed to in the contract with the
Gribi said there has also been reports that some callers have had
trouble reaching 911, and that using a cell phone to request
help has added 10 minutes to the 14-minute average response time,
though she couldn’t confirm that. She said South Pierce still provides
24-hour coverage to Eatonville, and has not vacated the station in
town, and did have staff there several days last week. Also, when it
is staffed, a call during any period in which the staff is out on
another call, would require response from one of the other stations.
Walter said it seems odd that the fire station in town, which
had for decades relied on volunteer firefighters, cannot still
rely on them to fill in the staffing gaps in a situation like this.
Gribi replied they’re utilizing volunteers as much as possible, but
there is not the number of volunteers that there used to be, and many
have day jobs. Also, that fire calls are relatively few compared to
Councilmembr Dunn said in his view, the quality of service is
the most important factor in fire and aid responses, regardless of
where they originate from. Thomas requested that the council be
provided with information about what the communication problem was
with the town phones not being able to reach 911. Chief Witt said he
would check the phone logs to try to determine what the issue was.
Gribi reported that street repairs will be done
next week on Antonie Avenue near Ridge Road, and on Hilligoss
Lane. The broken surfaces of the skate park half-pipe ramps are due
for repair in the next two weeks, and the security cameras at the
skate park are also due to be installed in early June.
Gribi also reported attending the third public hearing, held in Tacoma
on the morning of May 18, about the proposed Rim Rock Surface
Mine. There were four school district reps present, and six town
residents. She said if the county approves the proposal, “That’s when
Eatonville really becomes a player. That’s when they bring us a
plan…for us to approve or not, for them to move forward. It’s a very
dark, black line, once they get into Eatonville, Eatonville has total
say of what would happen on our road…
examiner planned on coming out and visiting the site again during, I
believe it was going to be school pickup time. I encouraged
him to come through on Memorial Day weekend if he could. In lieu of
that, he’s asked us to provide pictures, because there was some debate
as to how much traffic during the holiday weekends comes through that
Councilmember Thomas said his understanding was the May 18
hearing would include responses from the county to the inputs from
the citizens at the May 18 meeting. He asked specifically if they
provided any feedback on the rail line option, the 140 trucks per day,
and the dust generated. Gribi replied the county planner, Adonais
Clark, emphasized there were numerous citizens pushing for the
haul-by-rail option. They are estimating 42 trucks going in, and 42
trucks going out on a typical day.
committee reports, Hannah said the Utilities Committee reviewed
electric rates and discussed the topic of a rate increase, among
other things. Thomas reported on the Airport Committee meeting, saying
that now that the Airport Commission is up and running again, creating
some redundancy with the committee’s function, he will make a motion,
possibly at the next council meeting, to dissolve the committee.
A proclamation was read proclaiming May as Hunger Awareness Month.
Kylee Hutchings of the Eatonville Family Agency (EFA) shared
information about the level of need in the county, and reported that
3,428 more people were served by the Family Agency in 2016 than were
served in 2015. She then shared some of the volunteer-driven
activities such as the bread pickup and distribution program, the
backpack program, harvesting from Mother Earth Farm in the Puyallup
Valley, and others. Milk not consumed in the school district lunch
programs is re-distributed, and Fred Meyer Stores also contribute
Councilmember Walter said EFA director Alana Smith talked with him
recently about the make-up of EFA clients, many coming from
outlying areas, a high percentage being seniors, and many from
families that have at least one member who works at a paying job, but
still need help getting to the next paycheck. Hutchings concurred,
saying food is also taken to people in the Ashford area for whom it’s
a hardship to make the trip all the way in to Eatonville.
Resolution 2017-O confirms the mayor’s appointment of John Henricks,
II to the Airport Commission. Councilmembers Thomas and
Walter both praised Henricks for the expertise and enthusiasm he
brings to the airport issues and development. The resolution was
Dunn also congratulated the EFA for the great work that they
do in providing services to so many clients.
The meeting adjourned at 7:49 pm.
March 13, 2017 Town Council Report...
by Dixie A. Walter
March 17, 2017
All council members were present. Other than one Fire District 17
employee, there were no members of the public in the audience
until late in the meeting, when two citizens came in and sat down.
Police Chief Brian Witt reported that the leader of a crime spree
in town last summer has been convicted on five counts and given a
sentence of 72 months.
Assistant Fire Chief Sam Yount reported on, among other things,
conducting drug awareness education for Eatonville School District
Town Administrator Abby Gribi said the Nisqually Land Trust has
gifted another parcel of land to the town, this one being
along Alder Cutoff Road just beyond the Mashell River bridge,
designated for open space. She also said the staff has set the regular
meeting time for the Airport Commission to be the fourth Tuesday of
each month at 6 p.m., at the community center.
The town is now participating in the “8-1-1, Call Before You Dig”
program. Someone apparently emptied several five-gallon
buckets of used motor oil along the side of Lynch Creek Road. The
vactor truck and incident spill kits were used, and staff was able to
clean up and arrest the spread of the oil, which had contaminated the
ground for 150 feet down below the road.
Councilmember James Schrimpsher reported on the Public Safety
Committee’s work bringing the town’s code up to date and
streamlining it, including some of the penalty sections and general
provisions. He urged the council to stay abreast of the progress of
the proposed quarry expansion affecting Lynch Creek Road and others,
including road maintenance, traffic impacts including tourism, and
Councilmember Bob Walter urged everyone to study the final
environmental impact statement, and added that in his
opinion, the best option to alleviate the traffic issues on Lynch
Creek Road and at the intersection with Washington Avenue would have
been for the applicants to work something out with private landowners
between the existing quarry and the proposed quarry area, to enable
the trucks to use Weyerhaeuser Road. Gribi said one five-acre parcel
owner had refused to sell.
Gribi said two more public hearings will be conducted by County
Planning, on April 19 and 20, the latter one in Eatonville.
Mayor Mike Schaub thanked Assistant Town Clerk Christina Dargan for
her work ensuring the town once again qualified as a “well
city.” There will be a council budget retreat on Saturday, April 29
from 9 a.m. to noon at the visitor center.
In unfinished business, Ordinance 2017-1, on its second reading,
reducing the number of planning commissioners from seven to
five, was passed unanimously..
In new business were three resolutions. Resolution 2017-H approved
a utility bill late payment reversal and payment extension
policy. Late payment penalties can be reversed or waived upon request
of the rate payer once every 24 months, and in cases of extenuating
circumstances. The waiver will have to be requested by the customer.
Resolution 2017-I approved a driving policy for town staff. Passed
Resolution 2017-J approved a policy for the newly re-instituted
airport commission. The policy had been reviewed by the
Finance Committee. Schaub apologized for the oversight in not allowing
the Airport Committee to also review the policy before it was brought
to council. Gribi said that though staff will create the agendas for
the commission, just as they do for the planning commission, staff
will work with commission members to included items they recommend for
the agendas. Passed unanimously.
In councilmember comments, Walter pointed out this is National
Canine Veterans’ Day, and that they have saved a lot of
lives. He also reported on the February 28 Parks/Cemetery Committee
meeting, saying the committee was happy to hear a surveillance camera
will be purchased for the trailhead, funded by a grant from the
Association of Washington Cities’ Risk Management Service Agency. He
said this will help provide more security for trail users.
Councilmember Bill Dunn thanked the staff for their work in
cleaning up the dumped oil on Lynch Creek Road, and
thanked the person, whoever it was, who reported the spill to town
The meeting was adjourned at 7:49 p.m.
February 27, 2017 Town Council Report
Study Session - Discussion of Hangers at Airport Hazardous
Height According to Federal Aviation Administration
Planning Commission Reduced to Five Members
by Dixie A. Walter
March 3, 2017
The regular meeting was preceded by a study session at 6:45 to
discuss the parapets or facades on the four-unit hangar at
the southeast corner of Swanson Field. (Councilmember Bob Thomas, also
chair of the airport committee, was absent from the study session and
did attend the regular meeting.)
An attorney for Dan Simon and Pacific Northwest Land Development
LLC spoke first. The parapets on the front wall of the four
existing hangars could be removed, but they don’t feel that is
necessary, and their team feels the hangars look more attractive, more
like hangars instead of warehouses, with the facades.
handouts and displayed enlarged posters showing similar buildings at
other airports for comparison. Removing the parapets would take
about four and a half feet off of their height.
The applicant Dan Simon also said he is willing to remove the
parapets, but he feels after talking with pilots that it would be
unnecessary. He also said one of the reasons he has entered the
purchase and sale agreement (the building and property are in
receivership) is that he would like to acquire a plane some day, have
a hangar for it, and get a pilot’s license.
The town clerk said she has prepared two versions of Resolution
2017-D (that was tabled at the last meeting) to enter an
agreement between the town and the applicant for occupancy of the
hangar units. The original version concerns the hangar as built; the
second incorporates the amendment being suggested for consideration by
the applicant (removal of the parapets).
Regular Meeting Convened, Lengthy Discussions Regarding
Once the regular
council meeting convened, Mayor Mike Schaub mentioned that
councilmember Robert Thomas had told him he may not make it
back in time from a trip to Montana to be at the meeting. Council then
excused Thomas. During agenda review Councilmember James Schrimpsher
moved to place the tabled Resolution 2017-D back on the agenda.
Before the vote on
the motion, Councilmember Bob Walter objected to the move, saying, “I
think it would be unfortunate for us to bring this resolution back
and make a decision on it with Councilmember Thomas unable to be here,
the chair of our Airport Committee, and very much involved in ensuring
the future of our airport and the safety of it.” The motion passed
3-1, with Walter voting "No.".
Citizen Louise Van Eaton commented and asked about what was
actually being considered tonight, and whether the hangars
themselves, being hazardous because of their height, could be removed
as a result of this vote, in adherence to the town’s mission statement
that says, “…protecting the present and future health, safety and
general welfare of the community.”
Schrimpsher replied twice to Van Eaton, first explaining that the
tabled – and now untabled - resolution was a contract
between the town and the applicant so he could have occupancy.
Schrimpsher explained it had been tabled at the last meeting, “so they
could do some research and possibly have some discussion about
removing the facades.”
Van Eaton then said
the resolution before the council is the reason she is commenting now,
because it seemed that, by rejecting the resolution tonight,
council would have an opportunity to remove the tall, four-hangar
building and prevent further hazards at the site.
Schrimpsher then said, “It’s not about removing the building in its
entirety. It’s about removing the façade – the humps at the
front. That’s it. That’s what that resolution’s about.”
Walter said he wanted to be sure that he, and Citizen Van Eaton,
understood the true scope of the resolution to be voted on,
that it was not just about the facades. It was about whether or not to
enter a contract with the applicant, who could then purchase and use
the building according to the contract.
amendment just pertained to the parapets. But the status of the
building itself hinged on the outcome of the vote on Resolution
2017-D, as updated.
The consent agenda was passed unanimously.
Councilmember Thomas arrived during department head reports. Town
administrator Abby Gribi reported that the Association of
Washington Cities awarded the town a grant for $5,000 to purchase two
more surveillance cameras to add to the new system.
They will be
installed at the Bud Blancher Trailhead and at the water plant. She’ll
be getting bids in the next few days for setting those up.
Mayor Schaub explained those grants are from their risk management
Schrimpsher reported on a finance committee meeting, which looked
at the driving policy, the late-bill-pay policy, and the
airport commission policy, to mirror the planning commission policy.
Councilmember Jennie Hannah reported on a utilities committee
meeting, discussing the utility deposit, the late payment
policy verbiage, and reviewed some of the water code.
Councilmember Thomas reported on an airport committee meeting,
discussing the hangars, top-coating the runway and security. Two
airport commission members were also present. The committee and
commission both share concern about there being no restrictions in
Resolution 2017-D on use of the hangars.
Thomas said he had
no problem with their being occupied, as long as it was in compliance
with Washington State DOT (Department of Transportation)
guidance on appropriate use of a building with regard to that
particular zone. He also felt, and the committee consensus was that $3
million liability coverage was insufficient to cover the town in that
Mayor Schaub said that Phil Beach and his wife have moved, and he
has resigned after many years on the planning commission. Schaub
said he emailed Beach thanking him for his service and expertise on
The cold weather
has hindered the success of the cold patch on some of the potholes;
more patching will be done as the weather warms. He
reported that he, Gribi and Walter all attended the Pierce County
Regional Council assembly ten days ago.
In unfinished business was the un-tabled Resolution 2017-D, which
would approve a contract allowing the purchase and use of the
four-unit hangar on Tract C at Aviator Heights, under certain
conditions. Pacific Northwest Land and Development Company LLC has
assigned its interest in a purchase agreement on the property, which
is in receivership, to Garage Plus Storage Aviation LLC.
Schaub shared with the audience that the study session prior to the
meeting concerned the proposal by the applicant Dan Simon to
offer, as an amendment to the resolution for council to consider, the
removal of the four facades, or parapets, from the front of the
hangars, reducing their height by about 4 ½ feet.
The staff report prepared by the town attorney for the February 13,
2017 council meeting states, in part, “The FAA
determined the existing hangar would be a hazard to air navigation
because it exceeds the transitional surface area and the visual
traffic pattern protected airspace by 23 feet.
determination is advisory only and the FAA has no power to prevent
development. Instead, the authority to prevent construction
lies with the Town which in this case issued a construction permit and
certificate of occupancy.”
The applicant received supportive testimony from a pilot based at
Kapowsin Field, Eric Matthiessen, who has flown many types
and sizes of airplanes, and has flown into Swanson Field numerous
times over the years. Thomas asked him if he has ever navigated “short
final” into Swanson Field with the hangars there and an easterly cross
wind, which he, Thomas, says has bounced him around as a result of the
facades on the hangars. The Matthiessen said he has not landed in
cross winds over 10 or 15 miles per hour, since he avoids landing here
in a strong cross wind.
Thomas said he respected the man’s opinion that the parapets do not
have a measurable effect on turbulence, but added that it’s
all anecdotal evidence and speculative. Matthiessen asked, didn’t the
FAA approve it? Thomas replied the FAA did not approve the hangar as
is; the developer was working on the principle that it’s better to ask
forgiveness than to beg permission.
He then added that,
as the council beat the subject to death in the Aviator Heights
discussion, and as he understands it, it’s a Washington State land
use violation, and a FAR 77 violation for airspace.
Matthiessen again asked didn’t the FAA resolve it. Thomas replied,
“The resolution is a waiver, and you put flashing red
lights on all four corners so that the hazard to navigation is
The commenter then mentioned there are similar situations at Clover
Park and Thun Fields, and a lot of airports have that. He then
mentioned an airfield in San Diego where a parking garage was built,
“on short final.” Thomas quickly responded, “Now you’re advocating bad
government because you’re advocating building a hazard that we’ll
later have to spend money to mitigate. So why would we want to do
Walter asked Matthiessen to consider, given his flying
experience, a hypothetical situation in which this hangar was
proposed at this location, and what his response would be. He
replied that he might say move them a bit further away…but it wouldn’t
affect his decision to come in.
Councilmember Bill Dunn asked if the hangar wasn’t there, would
there still be an issue for, “the rather tall retaining wall”
behind the hangar property.
Simon answered yes, adding that was the reason the FAA determined
the hangar was not a hazard as long as it was better lit to be
seen. Thomas corrected him by saying the FAA didn’t say the hangar
wasn’t a hazard, but that the hangar had to be lit so that pilots were
cognizant of the hazard.
Hannah asked Simon to define again, what uses he anticipates for
the hangar units. “What the zoning currently allows,” he
Mayor Shaub said those uses will be governed largely by business
licensing. Thomas said whatever is allowed there must be
consistent with the state transportation department’s aviation
section, and what it says is compatible use in that zone.
Schrimpsher asked Thomas, if it’s controlled by our business
licensing regulations, why we need to worry about a wrong
type of use getting approved. Thomas replied that the Washington State
Department of Transportation Aviation Land Use Guidebook shows what’s
compatible and what’s not based on the zones around the airport.”
appropriate businesses and there inappropriate businesses, and quite
frankly, would that get reviewed, during a business license
review, in city hall? It doesn’t seem to have happened with the
preliminary plat for Aviator Heights, so we don’t have a real good
trend on doing that so far.”
Walter said that to him, eliminating as much as possible the
absolute risk of the hangars is more important than the
amount of insurance coverage on them or how they look (i.e. with or
without the facades).
Schrimpsher said the finance committee recently reviewed the new
outline for the reinstated airport commission, mirroring
off the planning commission, and that that may alleviate Thomas’s
concerns about control over uses in the airport zone in the future.
Thomas said his immediate concern is these hangars, and the contract
being entered allowing any type of occupancy, without any
Thomas explained his concern in this way, “As I’ve stated many
times before, you can be in compliance with Eatonville Municipal
Code, and out of compliance with state law regarding land use around
the airport. That’s been the core of my objections to most issues, and
again, I don’t see any restrictions in this contract over what those
hangars can and can’t be used for.”
Schaub said you would still have to get a building permit. Nothing
says residential is not allowed. “We’re taking an
out-of-compliant runway, brought it into as a public facility, that
was already out of your normal, what you would consider the compliance
of what you would consider an airstrip. And we’re not trying to worsen
that, but we are trying to hold it within our code. And we are dealing
with what we have as a current code and current land use.”
A lively and at times heated debate continued for some time. In the
end, the motion to amend the resolution to require the
facades be removed failed by a vote of 2-3, with Thomas and Walter
voting "Yes." The resolution to approve the contract for occupancy of
the hangar units was then passed by a vote of 3-2, with Hannah, Dunn
and Schrimpsher voting "Yes," and Thomas and Walter voting "No."
In other Business...
reduced the number of planning commission members from seven to five,
and staggered the expiration dates. The recent resignation
of Phil Beach brought the actual number of commissioners to five; it
had been at six for awhile, with one unfilled vacancy. The ordinance
passed unanimously. The number required for a quorum will now be three
instead of four members.
Ordinance 2017-2 adopted interim regulations concerning flood
damage prevention. This is a requirement of the Federal Emergency
Management Association for municipalities to be in compliance. Since
the deadline for compliance, including a public hearing to be
conducted by the planning commission, is coming up soon, the council
voted to pass the ordinance on the first reading. It passed
Resolution 2017-F sets new rates for refuse and recycling
collection, passing along the slight rate increases
(ranging from sixty cents to $1.73 per month in the residential
categories), being implemented by LeMay. It also passed unanimously.
Resolution 2017-G will surplus a bucket truck, an incident response
vehicle and a police cruiser – all vehicles that have not
been used by the town for some time.
In council comments, Walter asked Gribi for an update on the repair
of the surface of the half-pipe ramp at the skatepark.
She responded the material is in hand, but staff has their hands full
with severe weather concerns and other issues. When the weather warms
a little, it will be installed.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:24 pm.
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