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OLF meeting attracts big crowd

GATESVILLE – Over 700 concerned Gates County residents filtered in and out of Gates County High School last Friday afternoon.

These 700 were looking for answers through the Navy’s Public Scoping Meeting, attended by 25-30 personnel associated with the proposed Outlying Landing Field that may be located in the Sand Banks area of Gates County.

The public had an opportunity to ask specific questions at various stations situated in the school’s cafeteria.

Topics included at the stations were aircraft noise and safety, layout and operation of an OLF, partnering with the community, developing site alternatives and proposed action, purpose and need.

While only materials and visual aids provided by the Navy were present in the cafeteria area, the foyer and entrance of the school were dominated by posters, videos and photographs of the many Gates County residents in opposition to the OLF. A resident could pick up and anti-OLF button, t-shirt or bumper sticker.

The overwhelming consensus among with public was opposition to the placement of the OLF in Gates County, a public sentiment that has not wavered since the outset of the process months ago.

In addition to asking questions of the Navy personnel present at the meeting, citizens were also given the chance to complete a comment sheet or enter comments directly into the Navy’s database at computer stations. A website, www.olfeis.com, is also available for citizens who were unable to attend to review the same materials that were presented at the meeting. Concerned citizens are also able to enter written comments electronically via the website. However, all comments must be received electronically by the Navy by June 7 to be considered for the draft Environmental Impact Statement that the Navy will produce as a result of the meeting.

Four similar meetings– in Currituck County, Prince George County, Virginia, Sussex County, Virginia, and Southampton County, Virginia—were held leading up to the meeting in Gates County. And the Navy held meetings in Camden County, North Carolina and Surry County, Virginia in the days after meeting in Gates County.