Winter seeks ‘thorough look’ N.C. leaders seek more time for comment

Published 11:23 pm Thursday, May 3, 2007

News Editor
Navy Secretary Donald Winter “wants to take a thorough look” at other potential outlying landing field sites, according to one of the North Carolina congressmen who met with him Wednesday.
Winter met for about a half an hour with U.S. Reps. Walter Jones and G.K. Butterfield, both of whom represent eastern North Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Jones said his main OLF-related concern is the threat to the pilots that could be posed by them sharing airspace with thousands of migratory waterfowl from Washington County’s Pocosin National Wildlife Refuge. That refuge is less than four miles from the Navy’s preferred Site C in Washington and Beaufort counties.
Jones said he had promised Winter he would not speak about the specifics of the Wednesday meeting. But Jones, a Republican, did term the bipartisan discussion between the three men as “very positive, very encouraging.”
A spokesman for Butterfield, a Democrat, said Winter also seemed “genuinely interested” in exploring alternative OLF sites. Among the other options that have been offered is Open Ground Farms in Carteret County. U.S. Sen. John Warner, R-Va., recently pitched Fort Pickett, which is in rural, southeastern Virginia.
Butterfield and U.S. Rep. David Price, D-N.C., also sought Wednesday a 45-day extension of the public-comment period regarding the latest OLF impact study. The current deadline to submit comments is next Wednesday.
Willis said Butterfield “understands from the meeting that the Navy will be looking at public comments for … alternative site options.”
Willis said Butterfield has also asked for “clarification regarding the Navy’s operational needs.”
at Navy’s other OLF options