Assembly may block OLF

Published 8:54 am Friday, January 15, 2010

RICHMOND—State legislators are considering a bill that could block the U.S. Navy from building an outlying landing field in the Tidewater area.

Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Sen. Fred M. Quayle, R-Suffolk, would require the Navy to get approval from the General Assembly before acquiring property for an OLF.

“There have been some designated potential sites for Outlying Landing Fields,” Quayle said. “The citizens almost unanimously don’t want them, and they don’t bring any economic development; they are simply taking property off the tax holders.”

Quayle said the bill would ensure the federal government must take an additional step before locating an OLF in a county that does not have a military air base.

SB 6 would “require approval by the General Assembly before the United States acquires property for an outlying landing field in localities that have no current military base at which aircraft squadrons are stationed.”

Currently, the federal government has conditional consent to acquire land required for needed public buildings in Virginia.

Tony Clark, chairman of Virginians Against the Outlying Landing Field, said he supports Quayle’s legislation.

“There is no way that the localities have anything to fall back on to give them some self-determination,” Clark said. He said SB 6 “will give them the ability to refuse the Navy’s advances.”

Clark said he is not sure what the bill’s chances are of passing, but his group is hopeful, especially because North Carolina already has passed legislation similar to Quayle’s.

Last April, the North Carolina General Assembly unanimously amended state law there to require the Navy to get legislative approval to build an OLF in an area that has no existing military base.

The Navy has been considering five sites in Virginia and North Carolina for an OLF to support training for aircraft stationed at or related to Naval Air Station Oceana and Naval Station Norfolk.

SB 6 also has supporters in the House. Delegate Lionel Spruill Sr., D-Suffolk, backs the measure as it currently stands.

Quayle’s legislation is pending before the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections.