The Pasco City Council decided Monday evening that planned code changes for development around Tri-Cities Airport weren't quite ready for a vote.
Among the issues the city is looking to address is future development near a 1,200-foot northwest extension of Runway 12. Areas below airport flight paths face restrictions on construction that prohibit dense development or buildings like churches or schools where large groups gather.
But the changes, the first since the mid-1970s, also address development in the south of the airport. Rick White, Pasco community and economic development director, said the code changes won't adversely impact residential development in already built-up areas south of Interstate 182.
City staff was agreeable when Jim Toomey, executive director of the Port of Pasco, which owns the airport, asked that the port be notified whenever a land use change is requested in the zones impacted by the airport.
But Councilman Al Yenney questioned the impact the new designation would have on the area southeast of the airport, saying that more attention was paid to development to the southwest. He said it could prevent a hotel from being built near the I-182 and Oregon Avenue interchange, something a landowner has wanted for years.
"I'm a supporter of the airport," he said. "I think it's one of the jewels of the Tri-Cities. But we're going to have to live with this for a long time, so I want to make sure we get it right ... We need to make sure the airport functions, but also stand up for private property rights."
Mayor Pro-Tem Rebecca Francik said it's important that the city and airport work together.
"As Tri-Citians, we just have to recognize how critical this airport is to our economic vitality," she said. "Especially with the closing of Vista Field, this is the premiere airport in our area."
Council will vote on a final land use plan in the coming weeks.
Also Monday, the council scrapped plans to buy Apple iPad tablet computers for council members to download and study agenda packets. The city will continue using paper booklets for now.
City Manager Gary Crutchfield said he would like to use tablets that are WiFi only, at a cost of $848 per member or $5,936 for the entire council.
But Yenney said he often takes trips to the mountains and is not always around a wireless internet source, so he wants to get tablets with cellular connectivity.
That would cost $140 extra per iPad, plus another $3,360 annually in service fees if all seven council members get cellular devices.
After a heated discussion, they decided it would be less expensive to continue printing packets each week.
"We're not ready to change, I think that's clear tonight," Mayor Matt Watkins said. "There will be a time and a place when we go, the timing is just not right."
The council also discussed an update to the city's six-year transportation improvement plan, which must be filed each July with the state Department of Transportation. While it includes projects the city has wanted to do for years, such as the Lewis Street railroad overpass, it has a couple of new additions.
The most notable addition is a double-right-turn lane planned for Road 68's entrance to westbound I-182.
"Right now, it stacks up because 80 percent of the of the traffic backs up there and there's only one lane," Crutchfield said.
Longer-term plans call for exits off I-182 at Road 44 and Road 52, both of which are intended to take traffic away from the Road 68 interchange.
Council will host a public hearing on the transportation plan at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday.