Local News

Navy to Hold OLF Public Hearings

Posted March 16, 2007 11:41 a.m. EDT

The Navy will host six public hearings on its plan to build an outlying anding field in eastern North Carolina.

Each scheduled public hearing will be preceded by an open information session to allow interested individuals to review the plan. Navy representatives will be available during the information sessions.

Each information session will occur from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., followed by the formal public hearing from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Those wishing to speak at the public hearing should arrive early to sign up. Speakers will be heard on a first come first served basis.

Public hearings have been scheduled at the following dates and locations:

  • Monday, March 19: Mattamuskeet Elementary School, 60 Juniper Bay Road, Swan Quarter, N.C.
  • Tuesday, March 20: Bertie High School, 715 U.S. Highway 13 North, Windsor, N.C.
  • Wednesday, March 21: Perquimans County High School, 305 Edenton Road, Hertford, N.C.
  • Thursday, March 22: Craven County Community College, Orringer Hall, 800 College Court, New Bern, N.C.
  • Tuesday, April 3: Beaufort Community College, 5337 U.S. Highway 264 East, Washington, N.C.
  • Wednesday, April 4: Vernon G. James Research and Extension Center, North Carolina State University, 207 Research Station Road, Plymouth, N.C.

Environmentalists say the Navy has ignored the dangers of putting jet aircraft in the same airspace with thousands of waterfowl that spend the winter at Pocosin Lakes Wildlife Refuge. The area also supports a growing population of endangered red wolves.

The Navy favors the site in Washington and Beaufort counties that's about five miles from the refuge because it's close to both Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia and Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station in Havelock, where squadrons of Super Hornet fighter jets would be based.

Pilots now train at an auxiliary landing field near Oceana, but that field is crowded by development.

To build the airfield, the government would have to buy out several area farmers and fend off tens of thousands of large migratory waterfowl that winter in the region. The U.S. Agriculture Department says bird flocks could be controlled with fireworks, chemical repellents and dogs. If those tactics don't work, according to the report attached to the Navy's latest environmental study of the site, the department recommends using poison and guns to kill the birds.

Last month, Gov. Mike Easley called on Congress to block $10 million for the airfield site that the Department of Defense requested for next year's budget.