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.