NC Senators battle OLF

Published 12:02 pm Monday, January 3, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – The Navy’s plans to construct an Outlying Landing Field (OLF) at one of two possible sites in North Carolina has encountered yet another major roadblock.

Last week, North Carolina Senators Kay R. Hagan and Richard Burr included an amendment in the Defense Authorization bill to help prevent a proposed Outlying Landing Field (OLF) from being built in either Gates or Camden County. Those two areas are among five the Navy is currently considering for its aircraft landing practice facility. The other three are in nearby southside Virginia.

Hagan and Burr included a critical provision in their amendment, one that mandates the Navy submit a complete report to Congress on the suitability of existing OLFs and military airfields along the East Coast before the Navy can even consider spending money on a new OLF.

“Senator Burr and I worked together to prevent the Navy from placing an OLF in Northeastern North Carolina,” Hagan said. “The Navy has existing OLFs and military airfields. These facilities must be thoroughly evaluated before planning any new OLF, which I, along with the citizens of North Carolina, strongly oppose.”

The amendment is the latest in a long line of political maneuvering to halt the Navy’s OLF plans. Previous opposition has come from the local and state level. It also includes the grassroots efforts of Citizens Against OLF, a local campaign that traces its roots to Gates County.

The Navy, which has delayed the release of its environmental impact study at each of the sites, is proposing to construct an OLF to support training operations for carrier-based fixed wing aircraft squadrons stationed at NAS Oceana, Virginia Beach, Va. and NS Norfolk Chambers Field, Norfolk, Va.

The Navy proposes to acquire about 30,000 acres for the OLF through a combination of fee-simple purchases and the purchase of restrictive use or conservation easements. Approximately 2,000 acres would be used for the core area, which would includes an 8,000-foot runway, aircraft traffic control tower/operations support center, aircraft and vehicle refueling stations, airport rescue and firefighting facility, firefighting training area and rotating beacon tower.

The Gates County site is located in the Sandbanks area, which would also impact Hertford County near Winton.

The other four sites are in Camden County (NC); Cabin Point, located in Surry, Prince George, and Sussex counties, Va.; Dory, located in Southampton and Sussex counties, Va.; and Mason, located in Sussex and Southampton counties, Va.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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