Despite opposition from AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Steven Van Cleve, local residents living near Swanson Airport, the Washington Airport Management Association, and AOPA, the Eatonville, Washington, Town Council voted March 23 to move forward with a development plan that could adversely impact the airport and the town.
AOPA had weighed in on the unfolding situation, which is in essence the revival of a housing plan nearly a decade old that would place homes near the runway, but with an important twist on what was approved in 2007: An existing cul-de-sac built to serve those homes, and connected to the runway, would be cut off by a gate, and specific language in the plan allowing aircraft access to the new development would be struck.
The vote to change the Aviator Heights plan (known as a “plat” under local zoning rules) without subjecting the development to a new zoning review violates state law and local ordinance alike.
Van Cleve said there are several concerns about the proposed changes, including the fact that cutting off airport access for the new homes would make it more likely that those homes would be bought not by pilots (who already encircle the runway) but people less inclined to tolerate aircraft noise—a point also raised by some members of the town council in recent meetings. The close proximity of the homes to the runway is another concern, particularly if those homes are not sold to people familiar with aviation and airport safety.
AOPA Manager of Airport Policy John Collins also wrote to Eatonville officials in January, noting that the proposed modifications to the 2007 development would conflict with compatible land-use guidance provided by the Washington State Department of Transportation Aviation Division, and the town’s own land-use plan.