The two Skagit County sites being considered for a new commercial airport were taken off the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission’s list Friday.
The state commission had been looking into 10 possible sites for a new airport.
The sites on the list are what are called greenfield sites — undeveloped, commonly agricultural land that is sought after by construction or manufacturing companies due to it being flexible, open land.
The goal of the state Legislature, which set up the commission, is to have a new airport fully operational by 2050 in order to accommodate an estimated 40 million additional passengers a year that Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Paine Field in Everett will not be able to handle.
Some of this increase can be handled by small airports capable of expansion, but 27 million annual passengers is the expected overflow.
Over the past month, the commission held two virtual public meetings and a virtual open house.
More than 20,000 people attended the open house and more than 300 attended the public meetings.
Those attending were asked to fill out a survey.
It was found that 77% of those attending the open house were fully against Skagit County being considered for an airport, and 11% were OK with it as long as environmental impacts were considered.
Skagit Land Trust Executive Director Molly Doran said environmental impacts made placing an airport in the county difficult.
“I think it’s fantastic how all parts of Skagit County rallied and wrote to WSDOT [Washington State Department of Transportation] that this is not what we want here,” she said.
Skagit County Commissioner Peter Browning said having a commercial airport would have destroyed the agricultural community, not to mention the agricultural land that is among the best in the world.
When looking to narrow down the 10-site list, the consulting firm hired by the commission, Kimley-Horn, looked at which sites would be able to accommodate the most passengers.
The Skagit County Southwest site between La Conner and Mount Vernon was thought to be able to accommodate 6.4 million passengers a year.
The Skagit County Northwest site in the Samish flats northwest of Burlington was thought to be able to accommodate 4.4 million passengers.
Both are significantly below the 27 million passengers the commission is trying to accommodate, Kimley-Horn project manager David Williams said during the commission’s June meeting.
Senior aviation planner Rob Hodgman said during Friday’s commission meeting that the two Skagit County sites are too far north to be of much benefit to the commission’s plan.
“We in Skagit County are very happy with that decision,” Browning said. “For us that’s absolutely fantastic.”
The sites the Kimley-Horn team recommended doing further research on are a site in Thurston County that a 1992 flight study also recommended, and both Pierce County sites that were on the list.
The Pierce County sites will get further scrutiny due to the number of passengers they would be able to accommodate.
“It’s a sigh of relief that we’re taken off the list that we never wanted to be on,” Doran said.
The commission plans to name its top two sites by Oct. 15 and the final location by June 15.