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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 that information.

    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 to them.

    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
* fund a pet license 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.

   *(Publisher's Note:) Councilmember 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 council.
     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.)
 



Council Report Nov. 13, 2017
Construction Halted at Intersection - New Stoplight Won't be Installed Until Spring
Christmas Parade Saturday, December 2
*Citizen Louise Van Eaton Asked Council
to be More Polite to Each Other

         by Dixie A. Walter
          November 19, 2017


     
 Mayor 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.

      Councilmember 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 favor.

Councilmember Comments...

    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 family.

    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.

   *(Publisher's Note: See October 23 Report below regarding Van Eaton's citizen's comments.)

 



Council Report October 23, 2017
Eatonville Airport Discussion Gets Contentious
Future of Airport Hot Button Issue Again

       by Dixie A. Walter
       October 26, 2017

    Family Agency Receives $1,000
Check from Rod Knockers...

      At Monday's 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.

Agenda Items Pass Easily...

      All new 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.

Swanson 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 handle."

    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 decision."

    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 incompatible use.

     "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 with it.

     "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 airport."

    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 discussion?"

    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 the process."

    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
information needed."

    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 p.m.

    (*Publisher's 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.
    
*Comp 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.
     
*Eatonville is a "town" not a "city" - there is a difference.)
 



Council Report 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 do so.

    It 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 their community."

    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 responsible.

    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.

   "And it 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 topic."

      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 option."

     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 council."

     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 meeting?"

     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 [Safety Committee]."

     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 district.

     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 they own."

    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.

     "If 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 14.

     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 airport.

     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 transportation section."

     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.

    (*Publisher's 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 assessed value.

     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 residents.

     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.



Council Report July 24, 2017

         by Dixie A. Walter
        July 30, 2017

Citizens Comments

     After agenda 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.

     The descriptions 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 singled out.

    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 compliance.

National Night 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.

Available Water 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 filtering.

    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 completed.

"Nuisance" 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.

Citizen 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.”

Town 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 town.

    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 EMS calls.

    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.

Randles Gravel Pit Controversy...

    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…

    "The hearing 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 intersection."

    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.

Other Reporting...

    In 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 food.

   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 approved, 3-0.

    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 students.

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 safety concerns.

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.

Business Conducted...

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. Passed unanimously.

Resolution 2017-I approved a driving policy for town staff. Passed unanimously.

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 authorities.

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


Study Session...

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.

She distributed 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 Airport...

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.

The proposed 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 division.

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 location.

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 commission.

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.

"The FAA’s 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 obvious.”

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 that?”

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 replied.

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.”

There are 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 restrictions.

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...

Ordinance 2017-1 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 unanimously.

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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