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Local Leaders Fight State, Navy Plans for Practice Landing Field

Posted November 1, 2007
Updated November 2, 2007

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— Leaders of two eastern North Carolina counties said building a Navy jet practice field would devastate their local economy and way of life.

Gov. Mike Easley’s office recommended six new locations in eastern North Carolina to the Navy as possible sites for an outlying landing field (OLF). Pilots flying F/A-18 Super Hornet jet fighters would use the landing field to simulate night landings on aircraft carriers.

The Navy’s was denied its first choice in Washington and Beaufort counties after outcry over locating an OLF near a wildlife refugee.

Leaders of Gates and Camden counties – home to four of the six newly suggested sites – on Thursday voiced their opposition to an OLF study group that Easley set up. Officials said the counties could not bear the economic costs of OLF.

“There is tremendous poverty in that region,” Camden County manager Randell Woodruff said.

A landing strip could remove as much as 30,000 acres of taxable land that provides more than half of the county governments’ income.

Other residents opposed to OLF argued it would uproot a rural way of life.

“You cannot replace a farm that your grandparents struggled through the Great Depression to keep,” Debra Vaughn, with the group Citizens Against OLF, said.

Navy leaders told the OLF study group that they have not singled out Gates and Camden counties for economic reasons, and the Navy is considering a total of 17 sites – 11 in North Carolina and six in Virginia. Other North Carolina sites are in Duplin, Jones, Onslow and Pender counties.

“This has nothing to do with the amount of money anybody makes,” Rear Adm. David Anderson said.

Some argued that North Carolina should make sacrifices for national security and needs to help the Navy find a place for the OLF.

“If we are going to continue to talk about being the most military-friendly state in the country, then I believe the time has come for us to make the tough choices,” 12th district U.S. Rep. William Wainwright, D-N.C., said.

Wainwright represents Craven and Lenoir counties, which have benefited form the presence of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.

U.S. Navy Secretary Donald Winter is expected to make a report by Nov. 15 about whether the Navy will consider any of the proposed sites.


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  • Offshore Nov 3, 2007

    outlying (adj.) Relatively distant or remote from a center or middle: outlying regions.
    Is there any truly "outlying" areas left? Outlying... Out-Lying, sounds political......

  • Deep thoughts Nov 2, 2007

    Some of these farms have been in one family for hundreds of years, no amount of money can buy that much history.

  • 68_polara Nov 2, 2007

    Not in my back yard!

    And we wonder why we pay so much for fuel even though we don't allow big mean oil companies to build oil refineries but that's ok because we don't allow them to drill much of the recoverable oil off our shores anyway. We complain about brown outs in during the summer months because not enough electricity is being generated all the while preventing power companies from building new nuclear plants or even expanding existing ones, but that's ok because we prevent them from creating safe permanent storage for spent nuclear fuel anyway. whine... whine... whine...

  • skidkid269 Nov 2, 2007

    Bogue Field sounds like a logical choice, but a lot of people have transplanted to Indian Beach and Emerald Isle, and they all have money! They'll never allow Bogue Field to return to what it was. They complain about it enough as it is, and it was there first!
    I would think that poorer counties would welcome the OLF, since it will be it's own revenue stream. Look at Havelock, NC. If the Marine Corps Air Station wasn't there, it wouldn't exist. Havelock has surpassed New Bern as the largest "city" in Craven county. I wouldn't promote the new OLF site unless the landowners voluntarily sold their property. I'm pretty sure they'll get more money than they can make selling crops and their children can live better lives.

  • tmedlin Nov 2, 2007

    There's a price for everything - let them enter into negotiations and see what they can do. There are plenty of farmers willing to sell their land for the right price...

  • tmedlin Nov 2, 2007

    yeah, right, let's move the Navy bases to the west - duhhhh, no concern for national security in THAT judgement...

  • pls qt whining Nov 2, 2007

    Landing in VA never seemed to be a problem until the population grew, people built around the landing fields KNOWING they were landing fields and now complain about the noise and property values. . . gimme a break, who was there first? Keep it up yonder and leave our family lands alone. This is getting way out of hand!

  • djofraleigh Nov 2, 2007

    Move all the military bases and operations out west where the government already owns most of the land and no one is there to complain.

  • Pandoras Box Nov 2, 2007

    We should never allow taking someone's land. Esp - when it has been in the family for so long. I am sure there are acceptable options out there. FIND THEM.

  • ORMA Nov 2, 2007

    The Marine Corps has an auxillary landing field in Bogue, NC outside of Jacksonville. Why can't the Navy use this one. It is set up to practice night carrier landings on already and is manned 24-7 as well. The Marine Corps is a division of the Department of the Navy after all.