A seaplane sits moored at the guest pier in front of the Woodmark Hotel at Carillon Point. Contributed photo

Dept. of Ecology approves Kirkland shoreline permit for seaplane flights

The Washington State Department of Ecology has approved the shoreline conditional use permit for seaplane excursion flights at Carillon Point.

James Young of Seaplane Scenics and Sue Gemmill of Carillon Properties are the permit applicants proposing to operate a commercial seaplane tourism business out of the Carillon Point Marina. Young’s company, which is based in Renton and already offers Lake Washington tours, is looking to expand to Kirkland. The company had been operating for more than a year without obtaining a permit before Seaplane Scenics agreed to halt flights in August 2016 while the permit process played out.

Young and Gemmill have been met with concerns from residents near Carillon Point, including Karen Story, who filed a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) appeal in opposition to the permit on behalf of the Citizens for a Livable Waterfront group. The Kirkland hearing examiner denied the appeal in February.

The permit was locally approved — with conditions — by Kirkland hearing examiner Ryan Vancil in April. The conditions include the following:

· “The applicant shall provide regular maintenance of aircraft, and operate aircraft, to prevent engine backfire and noise exceeding the maximum levels allowed by code.”

· “Only one take-off and one landing per hour shall occur, including the return flight of the aircraft at the end of the day. The float plane operation shall be limited to the following hours of operation: (a) 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; and (b) 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday.”

· “The applicant shall only utilize Cessna 172 and 185 aircraft, or aircraft that meets the same standards or better for noise emissions.”

An email from Dept. of Ecology news media relations representative Larry Altose states that the department made no changes to the conditions the city set. He said the permit meets the conditional use permit criteria in state regulations (WAC 173-27-160) and Shoreline Management Act (SMA) requirements, including:

· The proposed use is water-dependent and thus is encouraged under the SMA as a “preferred use.”

· The “float plane landing and moorage facility” (commercial) use is anticipated (allowed) by the city’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP) and comprehensive plan.

· The use is located within a mixed-use facility (Carillon Point Marina) with existing commercial and recreational uses established at the site.

· The SMP limits this type of operation to established marinas, which are limited throughout the city.

The Dept. of Ecology determination was issued on June 6, and anyone can appeal it with the state Shoreline Hearings Board within 21 days of the issuance. More information about the appeal process can be found at www.eluho.wa.gov/Board/SHB.

As such, Young and Gemmill must wait until after the 21-day period to begin activities authorized by the permit, according to a letter addressed to Gemmill from Joe Burcar with the Dept. of Ecology.

More information about the conditional use permit, which is also known as file number SHR16-00803, can be found on the city’s website, kirklandwa.gov, on the planning department’s public notices page.

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