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Study group to hold hearing amidst opposition to OLF

By Staff
Northeastern counties resolve against Navy’s practice field
By DAN PARSONS, Staff Writer
The task force assembled by Gov. Mike Easley to study sites for a proposed outlying landing field in North Carolina is helping the Navy “measure the temperature of the neighborhood” in the northeastern part of the state.
The OLF Study Group, reassembled in September after a three-year hiatus, is holding its own public hearing Tuesday at Elizabeth City State University from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. to hear what residents in that part of the state have to say about an OLF in their backyards.
The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources is also accepting comments about the proposed OLF sites by e-mail at olfstudygroup@ncmail.net.
The hearing comes in the wake of sweeping political opposition to four of six new sites proposed by the Navy and DENR at the study group’s meeting last month.
Two of the newly proposed sites, Sandbanks and Hales Lake are in Gates County and two are in Camden County in the northeast portion of the state. Two others are in southeastern North Carolina. They are Angola Bay Gamelands in Duplin and Pender counties and Hofman Forest, land owned primarily by North Carolina State University in Jones and Onslow counties.
Rear Adm. David Anderson, the Navy’s top officer on the OLF project, has said his goal is to find a viable alternative to the Navy-preferred Site C in Washington and Beaufort Counties.
That site came under intense fire from the state’s congressional delegation and environmental agencies because of the possible social and economic impact of an OLF there and its proximity to the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, a wintering spot for hundreds of thousands of migratory waterfowl. The Navy also heard overwhelming opposition to that and four other proposed sites in eastern North Carolina during a series of court-mandated public hearings in March and April.
Representatives from state environmental groups gave a tentative OK to the six new sites at the study group’s second meeting Oct. 4. But local political opposition has sprung up in northeastern North Carolina, mirroring local reaction to Site C.
Commissioners in Pasquotank and Currituck counties both adopted resolutions Monday opposing an outlying landing field in neighboring counties.
They join Camden, Hertford, Perquimans, Gates and Chowan counties, which have all adopted resolutions opposing an OLF in their counties since the new sites were announced.
Despite that opposition, Eagles said the study group will continue to perform the task it was given by Gov. Easley — to provide a funnel for information between state residents, Gov. Easley and the Navy.
The OLF Study Group has also set its next meeting in Raleigh for Nov. 1 at 10 a.m. at the administration building, 116 W. Jones Street.