Local Politics

Easley Cites Opposition in Calling for Other OLF Sites

Posted November 14, 2007

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— Gov. Mike Easley on Wednesday urged the Navy to come up with alternative locations for an outlying landing field after a state panel found overwhelming local opposition to locating any field in eastern North Carolina.

Fighter pilots would use the field, or OLF, to simulate night landings on aircraft carriers. The darkened rural area would simulate a carrier deck on a dark ocean.

The Navy had sought to build the OLF in Washington and Beaufort counties, but public outcry over locating it near a wildlife refuge eventually killed that plan.

Six other sites were then proposed for the OLF, including four in Gates and Camden counties, but leaders in those communities recently expressed opposition to a panel that Easley had directed to examine the strategic, economic and environmental aspects of an OLF.

“The most important information gathered came from the citizens and public officials from affected counties who testified at the study group’s public meeting in Elizabeth City,” Easley said in a letter members of the state's congressional delegation. “They were overwhelmingly opposed to an OLF in their communities. They see an OLF as almost all burden and no benefit."

The governor, who also sent the letter to Navy Secretary Donald Winter, asked the North Carolina delegation to press the Navy for alternative OLF sites.

Winter was expected to decide by Thursday which of the six sites, if any, would be selected for further study.

But U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr said they don't think members of Congress should get involved in the dispute.

“We believe (the state) administration should continue its work with the Navy to come up with a site that has the support of the local community and meets the needs of the United States military. This lengthy process has been difficult on many North Carolinians, and we hope you would agree that our state is best served by a timely resolution to this matter,” Dole and Burr said in a statement.

Former state Court of Appeals Judge Sidney Eagles, who headed the OLF Study Group, said the Navy should provide incentives to communities to offset any impact from an OLF.

“Almost all of the public comments received by the study group stressed that placing an OLF in northeastern North Carolina would have devastating economic, social and cultural consequences,” Eagles said in a letter to Easley. "If the Navy is to proceed with placing an OLF in North Carolina, it should commit to providing economic incentives and working hand-in-hand with the communities to mitigate these concerns.”

10 Comments

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  • mvnull Nov 15, 2007

    tmedlin, I presume this is the opening shot in the negotiations. I, too, hope the communities get proper compensation.

  • davidgnews Nov 15, 2007

    Easley, Dole, and Burr.....you can find better quality, but you can't pay more !

  • Hip-Shot Nov 14, 2007

    So why don't they use the field at Atlantic N.C. or the one near Pollocksville. Those are former OLF's that were closed. They already have the land available to them, but I suppose that makes too much sense(and too cost-conscious) to reuse what they already have at their disposal.

  • whatelseisnew Nov 14, 2007

    I think right in front of the Governors mansion will make an excellent site.

  • U-na-li Nov 14, 2007

    Skilled Navy pilots, or "protecting" disease-carrying birds from some noise? The choice is sooooo hard!
    GayConservative

    As if. You have obviously not seen what a bird can do to a jet. How about protecting the pilots from ignorant people trying to make them fly through flocks of birds, which will kill people.

  • U-na-li Nov 14, 2007

    How about keeping it where it is now. They are only trying to move it because people have built homes right up against the present one. They obviously don't mind it, so let them deal with it. Why move it away?

  • thepeopleschamp Nov 14, 2007

    That jet noise is the sound of freedom. I loved growing up near Goldsboro and SJAFB in the 70's and hearing those F-4 Phantoms flying over.

  • tmedlin Nov 14, 2007

    I'm all for the navy, but I also believe some financial incentives would also be appropriate for the communities...

  • PaulRevere Nov 14, 2007

    Skilled Navy pilots, or "protecting" disease-carrying birds from some noise? The choice is sooooo hard!

  • Doctor Dataclerk Nov 14, 2007

    "They see an OLF as almost all burden and no benefit."

    How about training pilots to protect our rears, that's benefit enough for me, build it in my back yard! GO NAVY!