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Navy sets scoping meeting

GATESVILLE – Turnout is expected to be heavy at Friday’s (May 2) OLF Scoping Meeting conducted by the U.S. Navy at Gates County High School.

While no public comment will be received at the meeting, officials in both Gates and Hertford counties as well as a local OLF opposition group urge the public to attend.

“This will be an open house type of format,” said Laura Dickerson, spokesperson for Citizens Against OLF.

The meeting will be held from 4-9 p.m.

“You do not have to stay the whole time,” Dickerson added, “but it is important that you come and make your presence known. Children count, too.

Please make sure each member of your family registers individually. The Navy needs to know how we feel.”

Dickerson said it was also important for Hertford County citizens to attend. This is due to the fact that the OLF site in Gates County (Sand Banks) is located just across the Chowan River from Hertford County.

“We hope our neighbors in Hertford County will attend,” Dickerson said. “Although the Navy describes the Sand Banks site as including Hertford County, they do not have a separate scoping meeting.”

Local politicians are also scheduled to attend. Dickerson said it was important to let these officials know how local citizens feel about the OLF.

“This is our chance to be seen and heard as the Navy progresses with their EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) project,” she said.

The Navy plans to hold scoping meetings to obtain public input on five potential sites for a new Outlying Landing Field (OLF) over the next two weeks.

Earlier this month, the Navy published a Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register to prepare an EIS to assess the potential environmental consequences associated with constructing and operating a new OLF to support training and operations of East Coast Navy carrier aircraft.

The addition of a new OLF will ensure that yearnround capacity exists to support naval aviation training requirements and the operational flexibility needed to respond to emergent national defense requirements and optimize training.

Three of the proposed sites are in Virginia and two are in North Carolina.

The Virginia sites include Cabin Point, Dory and Mason.

The North Carolina sites to be considered are Hale’s Lake in Camden and Currituck counties and Sand Banks in Gates County.

Based on an evaluation of available information, these sites each have operational, environmental and population characteristics that make them viable site alternatives for further analysis.

These scoping meetings are designed to obtain public input on the scope of the EIS.

At each of the meetings, the Navy will have large displays set up to describe various aspects and issues associated with the OLF project.

Each display will have one or more subject matter expert(s) available to answer questions from the public about the issues within their areas of expertise.

There will also be comment cards available for members of the public to comment on the project and to offer suggestions regarding issues they feel the Navy should be aware of, or study further in the Draft EIS.

Unlike the public hearings that will be held once the Draft EIS is published, scoping is not a formal hearing.

There will be no formal presentation by the Navy, nor will there be an opportunity for attendees to speak.

This is much less formal and will provide the public an opportunity to engage one-on-one with Navy representatives to answer their questions as well as an avenue for the public to provide written input into the process.

Formal public hearings will be scheduled and conducted after publication of the Draft EIS, expected in mid-2009.

Members of the public not able to attend any of the scoping meetings may still provide comments until June 7, 2008.

Written comments can be mailed to:

Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic

6506 Hampton Blvd., Norfolk, VA, 23508

Attn: Code EV OLF Project Manager

Comments may also be submitted via the project web site at http://www.OLFEIS.com.