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~ Alexander Graham Bell





Another Expert Gives Thumbs Down to More Homes at Airport
WSDOT Aviation Planner Explains Flaws in Plan

                                                                                                                                                                               (photo by Bob Walter)

       In May 2013 a light plane hit the Burlingame home off Swanson Airport in Eatonville. The light plane was totaled but no one was in the home at the time - the pilot and passenger suffered only minor injuries. If a plane crashed into a home a good distance from the airport can it happen again with homes even closer to the runway? See more about this safety incident Here.  
     The letter below was also sent to
Stephen Kiehl who is the principal planner with the Puget Sound Regional Council. See others who received copies at the end of the letter.

WSDOT Aviation Planner not on Board for More Airport Homes

May 7, 2014

Mr. Gregory A. Jacoby
201 Center Street W
PO Box 309
Eatonville, WA 98328

RE: Aviator Heights Preliminary Plat

Dear Mr. Jacoby,

This letter is to confirm that the Town of Eatonville has formally consulted with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Aviation Division regarding proposed modifications to the Aviator Heights preliminary plat.

RCW 36.70.547 and 36.70A.510 requires local jurisdictions to formal consult with airport owners, managers, private airport operators, general aviation pilots, ports, and the Aviation Division of the Washington State Department of Transportation prior to adoption of comprehensive plan policies or development regulations that may affect property adjacent to public uses airports.

The main goals of formal consultation are to avoid, minimize, and resolve potential land use conflicts with airports. WSDOT strongly recommends that formal consultation be initiated by local jurisdictions as early as possible in the planning process. This is to assure that all parties have an opportunity to work together to find mutually beneficial, comprehensive solutions that fulfill the intent of the legislation, consistent with local jurisdictions’ land use planning authorities and obligations under law.

The following is a general summary of WSDOT’s concerns and observations discussed during the City of Eatonville’s formal consultation meeting:

· RCW 37.70.547 of Washington’s Growth Management (GMA) Act  requires  towns, cities, and counties to discourage development of incompatible land uses adjacent to public use airports through adoption of comprehensive plan policies and development regulations.

· RCW 36.70A.200 identifies Swanson Field as an essential public facility.

· The Town of Eatonville’s transportation element recognizes the airport’s role in personal and business travel. The document also highlights the airport’s strategic geographic location, “the location makes it important for aircraft flying between Olympia and Yakima for use as an alternate landing site.

On many occasions, Eatonville is the only airport in the South Puget Sound area that remains fog free, and is frequently used when no other field is available. In addition, the lighted field provides the only opportunity for safe Medevac helicopter night operations in the vicinity. These operations save accident victims whose survival would have otherwise been jeopardized.”

· Condition 3 of the preliminary plat requires use of the private roadway by aircraft for a taxiway. Eliminating this condition will change the development from an aviation oriented airpark to a non-aviation single family residential development. Single family residential development is typically incompatible with airports.

The proposed plat and modifications conflict with the City of Eatonville’s goals and policies recommendations:

LU-1G: Encourage the protection of the Swanson Airport from adjacent incompatible land uses and activities that could impact the present and future airport operations. Uses may include non-aviation residential, multifamily, height hazards, and special uses such as schools, hospitals and nursing homes and explosive/hazardous materials.T.3 Protect airports in Spokane County from encroachment by incompatible land uses.

- LU-14F: Encourage aviation related land uses, commercial and industrial development within the Aerospace zone.

- LU-14H: Encourage the protection of the Eatonville Airport / Swanson Field from  adjacent incompatible land uses and activities that could impact the present and future operations of the airport.

- LU-1B: Ensure compatibility with adjacent land uses.

§ LU-1B.1: The type of land use and the design of new development should be compatible with existing developments and land uses and should preserve Eatonville’s small town image;

§ LU-14J: Adopt Federal Aviation Administration (FAR) Part 77 “Imaginary Surfaces” regulations to protect the airport from height hazards so as to be subject to a case by case modification only obtainable with an approved variance.

The Aviator Heights plat falls within the airport influence area for Swanson Field. Uses within the airport influence area will be impacted from a variety of aviation activities. Such activities may include, but are not limited to noise, vibration, odors, hours of operation, low overhead flights and other associated activities. Such activity could have an adverse impact on the residents’ quality of life and contribute to conflict between neighbors and the airport.

Siting residential development adjacent to a public use airport is inconsistent with best management practices found in the Airports and Compatible Land Use Guidebook, 2011.

WSDOT has concern that non-frangible fencing and a gate in Tract B could create hazards to aircraft. Tract B falls within the airport’s runway protection zone (RPZ). It is desirable to clear the entire RPZ of all above-ground objects.

WSDOT has concern that the residential and commercial building heights will penetrate the airport’s FAR Part 77 ‘Imaginary Airspace Surfaces’ and pose an airspace hazards. Local jurisdictions play a critical role in protecting the airspace around airports from airspace hazards. This is particularly important because the FAA does not have enforcement authority to regulate local land uses.

A Determination of No Hazard by the FAA, indicating that it has no objection to a proposed construction, does not mean that the proposal is compatible with the airport.

Encroachment of incompatible development is cumulative and temporal in nature. This slowly erodes the utility of the aviation facility.

WSDOT Aviation is available for further consultation.

The importance of Swanson Field to the region and state's transportation system cannot be overstated. It is critical that every effort be made to discourage incompatible land uses that impair the airport’s ability to operate as an essential public facility. We thank you again for the opportunity to formally consult, and remain available to provide technical support and assistance. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at 360.651.6312 or www.timmerc@wsdot.wa.gov  if you have any questions.


Carter Timmerman
Aviation Planner


Dan Shoemaker, FAA, Airspace Specialist Seattle Obstruction Evaluation Group
John L. Collins, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Manager Airport Policy
Les Smith, Washington Pilots Association, President
Stephen Kiehl, Puget Sound Regional Council, Principal Planner
Steven Van Cleve, Commercial Pilot, Eatonville WA
Warren Hendrickson, Washington Airport Management Association, Executive Director


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