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Navy cancels condemnation of some land at Site C

By Staff
Washington County asks for remaining acreage
Staff Writer
PLYMOUTH — The Navy on Tuesday petitioned a federal court to cancel condemnation proceedings on 1,572 acres of 2,793 it owns at Site C — formerly the Navy’s preferred site for an outlying landing field in Washington and Beaufort counties.
The 1,572 was acquired by condemnation by the Navy in 2005 from the McMullen Trust after the parties were unable to agree on a purchase price for the land. At that time, the Navy paid the Trust $3.2 million — its estimate of just compensation. The litigation to determine the actual just compensation was still pending in federal district court until Tuesday.
The McMullen Trust is a fund owned by Harry McMullen, an out-of-state landowner with North Carolina roots.
The announcement was made Monday afternoon by Mark Anthony, a civilian Navy employee working on the OLF project, in an e-mail to Washington County Manager David Peoples.
Twice pegged as the Navy’s preferred site for the OLF, Site C was removed from consideration as a potential site by the Navy in January. Two new sites in northeastern North Carolina and three sites in Virginia are now being considered as sites for the field — to be used by Navy pilots to practice landings on aircraft carriers.
At a meeting Tuesday morning of the Washington County Board of Commissioners, Peoples discussed with the board the potential fate of the remaining acreage the Navy owns. Though the 30,000 acres needed to build an OLF at Site C are in both Washington and Beaufort counties, the Navy-owned land is entirely within Washington County, according to Peoples.
The Navy does not have the authority to deed that land back to its original owners in the county, but can in the case of the McMullen Trust because the sale was pending in court, Anthony wrote. Peoples said Anthony indicated to him that the Navy “was interested in being good citizens” as it decides how to dispose of the land.
Peoples said the Navy could deed the land to the state of North Carolina and that the state would have to decide what to do with it then. Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution formally requesting that the property be eventually turned over to the county.