Senate hopeful Marshall says OLF would be unfair to farmers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 17, 2008

WAKEFIELD—Opponents of the Navy’s proposed outlying landing field got a word of support Wednesday from one of the candidates seeking to take over as Virginia’s junior senator upon the retirement of U.S. Sen. John Warner.

Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-13th) was the only one of three candidates for the Senate seat to address the OLF issue during remarks at the Wakefield Ruritan Club’s 60th annual Shad Planking.

During a brief speech before hundreds of people on hand for one of the state’s premier annual political events, Marshall acknowledged having seen “NO OLF” signs and stickers along the side of the road and on the Ruritan Club grounds.

He said a decision either way on locating a Navy training airfield at one of the proposed sites in Southampton, Sussex or Surry would have long-term effects on those counties. He also blamed Virginia Beach officials for putting the state and the Navy in the position of potentially having to rely on Southside Virginia to come to the rescue of encroached Hampton Roads training facilities.

“What Virginia Beach did not do years ago is having effects on farmers around here, and that’s not fair,” he said, alluding to the fact that Virginia Beach had allowed development to threaten Oceana Naval Air Station’s future.

Marshall also said that Oceana’s future could be in doubt — regardless of any OLF decision — when the new generation of fighter aircraft begins to replace the F/A-18 Super Hornet in a few years.

He suggested that the Navy should prove that the master jet base still would be viable with the new fighters before forcing farmers to give up their land to build an OLF.

Neither former Gov. Jim Gilmore — the other Republican seeking nomination — nor former Gov. Mark Warner, the Democratic candidate for John Warner’s senate seat, addressed the OLF issue during their Shad Planking remarks.