Resident of 45 years says he’ll move if Navy planes come

Published 11:03 am Saturday, February 12, 2011


FRANKLIN—Joe Vaughn has lived in his home on Walters Highway for 45 years, but he said he will move if the Navy decides to use Franklin Municipal Airport for pilot training.

Vaughn’s property abuts the airport, and his home is closer than any other to the airport.

“I wouldn’t be able to live there,” the 79-year-old said. “The constant noise would affect my nerves and rest.”

Vaughn plans to attend a town hall meeting from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 14, at Paul D. Camp Community College Regional Workforce Development Center. Residents can ask questions about the proposed Navy pilot training at the airport and will hear presentations from officials with the City of Franklin and Navy.

Franklin expects to receive $700,000 to $1 million annually from the Navy to host the training. The Navy would conduct up to 20,000 “Field Carrier Landing Practice” passes annually, operating 15 to 20 days per month, or up to 200 days per year, for 10 to 12 months. On average, the Navy would conduct 100 passes per day in three-hour increments.

When Vaughn built the house, there was only woods behind his home. The airstrip was extended over the years. If he had known the airstrip would eventually reach his property, Vaughn said he would have built elsewhere.

“The planes are closer to the house than ever,” he said.

Vaughn is also worried about the condition of his house.

In his bedroom, which faces the airport, there are a few cracks in the foundation that Vaughn said he believes are the result of the vibration from helicopters landing. There are no cracks on the front of the house, which does not face the airport, he said.

Vaughn said he is concerned about what will happen if planes fly over more consistently.

“I’m not the only one who is dissatisfied,” he said. “The whole community is.”

John Bryant, owner of nearby Beaverbrook Manor Mobile Home Park, is concerned that the Navy’s presence will keep people from staying in or moving to Franklin.

“I think that it’s the worst thing that ever happened to Franklin,” Bryant said.

He said he thinks the City Council is only considering the money it will get from the Navy, but he doesn’t think it’s enough to compromise the quality of life.

“They’re looking to turn (Franklin) into another Virginia Beach,” Bryant said.

He also said he’s worried about how the Navy’s presence will affect his business.

“There’s a good possibility that this will affect my retirement,” he said.

Vaughn thinks the Navy needs to find a different place for the training.

“A lot of people will be affected by this,” he said.

Bryant and Vaughn both said they are worried about safety and pollution in the area.

Vaughn said he isn’t sure where he’ll go if he has to move.

“I think it’s a very big mistake for us to accept (the Navy’s proposal),” he said.