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
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
WSDOT Aviation Planner not on Board
for More Airport Homes
Mr. Gregory A. Jacoby
201 Center Street W
PO Box 309
Eatonville, WA 98328
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
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.
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
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
· 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.
many occasions, Eatonville is the only airport in the South Puget Sound
area that remains fog free,
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.
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
LU-1G: Encourage the protection of the Swanson Airport from adjacent
incompatible land uses and
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
LU-14H: Encourage the protection of the Eatonville Airport / Swanson Field
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
and land uses and should preserve Eatonville’s small town image;
LU-14J: Adopt Federal Aviation Administration (FAR) Part 77 “Imaginary
Surfaces” regulations to
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
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
Siting residential development adjacent to a public use airport is
inconsistent with best management
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.
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
Encroachment of incompatible development is cumulative and temporal in
nature. This slowly erodes
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you
have any questions.
Dan Shoemaker, FAA, Airspace Specialist Seattle Obstruction Evaluation
John L. Collins, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Manager Airport
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
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