Local Politics

Congressmen ask Navy to abandon OLF project

Posted January 28, 2011 3:04 p.m. EST

— A day after the Navy announced it would table for at least three years plans to build a landing field in eastern North Carolina for fighter jets, two congressmen asked that the project be terminated.

First District Congressman G.K. Butterfield and 3rd District Congressman Walter Jones sent a letter to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, citing local opposition, fiscal concerns the lack of necessity for an outlying landing field as reasons to end the project altogether.

"The people of Gates and Camden counties have made it clear that and outlying landing field is not a good match for their communities,” Butterfield said in a statement. “It’s time the Navy end the waiting game and shut this project down.”

A 2005 land-use study showed the Navy encountering increasingly crowded conditions for flight operations in and around Virginia Beach, Va., and recommended that the Navy “pursue development of an additional outlying landing field in North Carolina” to alleviate the impact of growth in southeastern Virginia.

Local and state officials, environmental groups and residents in Camden, Currituck, Hertford and Gates counties lobbied against the project, saying the landing field would be noisy and disruptive.

Gov. Beverly Perdue issued a statement Friday expressing relief that the project was put on hold until at least 2014.

"We are pleased that North Carolina’s position was heard and the Navy is considering other locations for the outlying landing field," Perdue said. "We will continue to aggressively pursue the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters squadrons for Cherry Point and look forward to housing as many as possible."