NO OLF gets word of hearings; Navy says not so fast

Published 4:01 am Sunday, January 21, 2007

By Staff
By NIKIE MAYO, News Editor
Outlying landing field opponents say they’ve learned of potential hearing dates for the public to comment on the Navy’s court-ordered Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, but the Navy says they aren’t set in stone.
The leaders of North Carolinians Opposed to the Outlying Landing Field say they received information indicating that space has been requested for a public hearing in Washington County this spring. The request was made for April 4-5 at the Vernon James Center in Plymouth, according to NO OLF. The paperwork to reserve that space, however, has not yet been returned.
Space has been reserved for a public hearing to be held in Perquimans County on March 19, according to NO OLF. But a Navy spokeswoman said Saturday the dates were still undetermined.
Wyman spoke to the Daily News after contacting Ted Brown, the Navy spokesman who usually fields all questions related to the OLF. Brown is on leave until Monday, Wyman said.
The public hearings, which will be set for each county the Navy considered a potential OLF site, give people the chance to comment on the SEIS that was ordered when the courts found the Navy’s first environmental impact statement to be insufficient. Site C, the one on the border of Washington and Beaufort counties, is the Navy’s first choice for a place to train pilots in takeoffs and landings.
NO OLF contends that one round of would-be hearings was canceled in December. The Navy’s SEIS still needs some review, according to Brown. It was first scheduled to be ready in the fall; now the target date is “some time this winter.”
A contingent in Jacksonville, Fla., worked to have its Cecil Field reopened as a military base, getting a referendum on the matter put on last November’s general-election ballot. The measure was opposed by about 60 percent of voters.