Where is support for appeal of commercial flights decision?
MUKILTEO - The city of Mukilteo is preparing to appeal the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of commercial passenger flights at Paine Field, but so far no other city wants to join the suit.
Mukilteo Mayor Joe Marine wants other cities opposed to commercial flights — Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood — to sign on as appellants. The cities wouldn’t have to make a financial commitment, he said.
Marine said last week those cities want to know legally what they would be getting into, which came as a surprise to Marine.
“None of them up until today – none of them said they needed legal documentation,” Marine said. “I thought they’d just go to their city councils. I never thought it had to be this big legal document.”
The deadline to file an appeal is early February. None of those cities have put the topic on their city council agendas as of last week.
The Mukilteo City Council approved filing an appeal in federal court last month, shortly after the FAA released its decision.
The city has built up a legal fund of $125,000 to fight the FAA in federal court and has retained aviation law expert Barbara Lichman.
Mountlake Terrace City Manager John Caulfield was caught off guard by the February deadline in a phone interview Tuesday, Jan. 22.
Mukilteo was yet to send legal letters to Mountlake Terrace to start the process, Caulfield said Jan. 22.
“Undertaking a lawsuit is a pretty big thing,” Caulfield said, declining to guess how his city council would act.
But Marine said the other cities are well aware of the deadline. He’s been talking with Caulfield, Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling and Lynnwood Mayor Don Gough on an appeal for weeks, Marine said.
Marine is reaching out to those cities because officials there oppose commercial passenger flights.
“I was surprised they seem to be dragging their feet,” Marine said. He said previously he expected each city’s council to broach the topic by the start of January.
Mukilteo won’t find any help from neighboring Everett. Everett’s City Council approved a resolution supporting commercial flights years ago, and Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson applauded the FAA’s Dec. 4 decision in a statement.
Mukilteo’s appeal takes issue with the federal environmental review used to evaluate the impacts of adding commercial flights at Paine Field. The review concluded the addition of commercial flights wouldn’t increase pollution, noise and traffic near the airport. The review only looked at the initial flights the airlines said they wanted to offer. It didn’t look at the cumulative impacts of opening up the general aviation airport to commercial flights.
The FAA began studying the issue after two airlines asked to begin service at the airport located between Mukilteo and Everett and operated by Snohomish County.
In 2008, Allegiant proposed starting with two flights a week to Las Vegas using MD-83 jets. Horizon proposed six flights a day using Bombardier Q400 Dash 8 regional turboprops.
Both airlines were still interested in flying out of Paine Field as of last month.
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