A skirmish is won

Published 3:46 am Saturday, May 26, 2007

By Staff
While it’s laudable the N.C. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a resolution against the Navy building an outlying landing field in eastern North Carolina, it’s disappointing to learn that resolution was not drafted by a legislator from eastern North Carolina.
The House approved the resolution with a 109-8 vote. The resolution heads to the Senate for its consideration.
State Rep. Cary Allred, a Republican from Burlington, gets the credit for doing that. Although many legislators who represent eastern North Carolina are opposed to the Navy building an outlying landing field in this part of the state, especially the proposed Site C in Washington and Beaufort counties, not one of them drafted the resolution.
Rep. Arthur Williams, a Democrat from Washington, and Tim Spears, a Democrat from Washington County, are two primary sponsors of the resolution. His sponsorship is appreciated. But why does a legislator from the middle of the state draft the resolution? Perhaps he’s better at drafting resolutions than our area solons.
Allred, who acknowledges he doesn’t represent eastern North Carolina in the state House, said he opposes the outlying landing field for safety, environmental and cost reasons.
The resolution urges the Navy to “find a more suitable location than Washington, Beaufort and Perquimans counties to build its outlying landing field.” It also urges the state’s congressional delegation to withhold funding for the proposed outlying landing field in Washington County until a more suitable location in the state is located. The House also called for a certified copy of the resolution to be sent to the secretary of the Navy.
The resolution makes note of the presence of a large waterfowl population at the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. The resolution says some of the adverse effects of an outlying landing field near the refuge include “a loss of foraging habitat for the migratory waterfowl, a loss of prime farmland for people in Washington, Beaufort and Perquimans counties, an increased threat to the safety of the pilots practicing at the site due to collisions with the birds.”
It’s heartening to know the state’s legislators recognize the OLF is more than just a threat to the eastern part of the state; it’s a threat to the entire state. The state House deserves thanks from all areas of the state, not just the eastern portion.
Now, it’s up to the state Senate to do its part. The Senate should approve the resolution. Marc Basnight, president pro tempore of the state Senate and an eastern North Carolina resident, should lead the charge for the resolution’s passage in the Senate.
Eastern North Carolina residents have voiced their opinions and concerns about an OLF at Site C and other eastern North Carolina areas. They have a right to expect their legislators represent those concerns in the Legislature. With the Senate concurring with the House’s passage of the resolution, the Legislature can send the following message to folks in eastern North Carolina: We heard you, and we are helping you.
Now it’s time for the state’s congressional delegation to continue its work to keep an OLF from being placed in the wrong spot in North Carolina. That delegation should send the same message to its constituents that the state Legislature is expected to send.
A skirmish has been won, the battle continues.