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U.S. Navy Continues Plans To Build Landing Field In Washington County

Posted December 22, 2003

— Navy officials plan to break ground on a proposed outlying landing field in Washington County in 2005, but some grassroots organizations asked them to reconsider the decision because of environmental concerns. On Friday, the Navy flat-out rejected the plea.

The U.S. Navy said they have found a place to land their Super Hornets in eastern North Carolina. This week, top Navy brass began meeting with Washington County residents who own the land where they want to build a practice landing field.

"We're in a position to begin making purchase offers to property owners in the initial core area which is about 3,000 acres," said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Richard Cellon.

Beaufort and Washington counties recently filed a lawsuit trying to stop the project. Residents say they are concerned over noise and possible environmental issues. Some worry it will affect snow geese that migrate to a nearby wildlife refuge.

The director of the State Department of Environment and Natural Resources for Coastal Management asked the Navy to conduct more environmental impact studies in a letter last month, but Navy officials said more studies are not warranted.

"It was well-researched. There is not a better site," said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Stephen Turcotte.

The Navy said some landowners near the site will get the option to stay or let the government buy their land and pay to relocate them. They have told at least 11 families that they must move.

"In some cases, we're in agreement. In some cases, we've agreed to disagree. We have not gotten to the negotiation phase yet," Turcotte said.

The U.S. Interior Department also asked the Navy to reconsider its site for the outlying landing field in November. They also cited environmental concerns.


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