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Originally published January 4, 2010 at 10:12 PM | Page modified January 5, 2010 at 7:11 PM

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Crowd against passenger service at Paine Field

Residents of Mukilteo and surrounding communities told the Federal Aviation Administration on Monday night that introducing passenger service at Paine Field would turn their pleasant suburbs into Sea-Tac north — a place of noise, traffic, motels and declining property values.

Times Snohomish County reporter

Residents of Mukilteo and surrounding communities told the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Monday night that introducing passenger service at Paine Field would turn their pleasant suburbs into Sea-Tac north — a place of noise, traffic, motels and declining property values.

A crowd of about 175 people applauded, despite admonitions against public outbursts, as speaker after speaker questioned an environmental assessment's conclusion that adding 44 commercial flights per week at the Snohomish County airport would cause no significant impacts.

The meeting at Meadowdale High School in Lynnwood was the first of three hearings this month to take public comment on the environmental assessment released in December on the proposal to introduce commercial passenger service to Paine Field.

Horizon Air has proposed flying four times a day to Portland and twice a day to Spokane. Allegiant Air has requested twice-a-week flights to Las Vegas.

Paine Field now has 144,000 annual flights, but no commercial service. By 2016, the number of flights would increase to about 171,000 annually — including 8,000 commercial flights — the environmental assessment says.

Lynnwood resident David Fowler told FAA representatives that residents of Mukilteo, Lynnwood and Edmonds want to keep their "beautiful communities."

"Take a look and wonder at the hotels, motels and massage parlors" surrounding Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. "It isn't just jet planes," he said.

Mukilteo resident Kevin Wilson said that when he bought his home in 2000, the real-estate agent told him that "there's a promise there will never be a commercial airport."

Another Mukilteo resident, Mike Moore with the Save Our Communities organization, criticized the environmental assessment for evaluating the minimum number of commercial flights, not the future impacts.

The introduction of passenger service at Paine Field did find support among some business and economic-development leaders.

Mike Echelbarger, a Lynnwood developer, said planes have gotten quieter over the past decades and he agrees there would be no significant impact from adding commercial passenger service.

"I'm tired of the inconvenience of driving to Sea-Tac. I'm looking forward to both Horizon and Allegiant coming to Paine Field," he said.

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Deborah Knudson, director of the Economic Development Council of Snohomish County, said commercial air service would be an asset to growing the regional economy.

"If we want to protect and grow our aerospace industries as well as bio-tech, we need daily airport connections," she said.

A second hearing will be from 6:30-9 p.m. today at the PUD auditorium in Everett. A final hearing will be from 6:30-9 p.m. Jan. 21 at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo.

Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or lthompson@seattletimes.com

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