State House wants ‘more suitable location’ for OLF

Published 3:21 am Friday, May 25, 2007

By Staff
Proposal drafted by former sailor
News Editor
A resolution proposed by a Navy man, which urges the Navy to “find a more suitable location” than Washington and Beaufort counties to build an outlying landing field, garnered overwhelming support in the state House on Thursday.
The resolution’s primary sponsor is Rep. Cary Allred, a Burlington Republican. Allred served in the Navy from 1966 to 1968, spending time on the USS Holder, a destroyer.
The resolution also asks the Navy to scrap any similar landing field plans in Perquimans County, thus eliminating three of the Navy’s five potential OLF sites. The proposal passed 109-8.
Site C in Washington and Beaufort counties remains the Navy’s preferred spot to train military pilots in carrier landings. Site E in Craven and Beaufort counties was suggested as having the least impact on wildlife by Dale Hall, the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Site D in Hyde County remains on the list of alternative sites.
Site C’s nearness to Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge has raised the ire of state and federal leaders, along with residents who live near the 34,000-acre tract. Just last week, the U.S. House approved language in the latest national defense bill that would ban the Navy from that site.
Allred’s resolution, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Tim Spear and Arthur Williams, Democrats from Washington and Beaufort counties, respectively, nods to the thousands of migratory waterfowl that winter at the refuge. It also cites “a loss of prime farmland for people in Washington, Beaufort and Perquimans counties” and “an increased threat to the safety of pilots.”
Allred said listening to the “statewide reaction” against the Navy’s preferred OLF location prompted him to draft the bill.
Allred said the OLF is a property-rights issue and that the land in this rural region shouldn’t be “condemned for a stupid idea.”
His resolution moves on to the state Senate.