Congressman Charlie Norwood has met with Secretary of the Navy Gordon England to officially request that the Navy abandon plans to build a jet pilot training facility in rural Burke County.
In a statement released Friday night, Dr. Norwood said he told Mr. England he supports the Navy's need for training, but in this instance he will vigorously oppose the Burke County site.
"I have my orders, the same as you all, but mine come from my constituents, and I have to follow them," the Augusta-area Republican said he told Mr. England.
Dr. Norwood said he asked the Navy to consider other locations, including sites near the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site.
Dr. Norwood said he made the request after several hundred residents turned out for a March 1 town hall meeting he sponsored in Waynesboro. Representatives of the U.S. Navy Atlantic Fleet Command attended the meeting and heard almost universal disapproval of the proposed Outlying Field landing training facility that would be used by Navy F-18A fighter jets.
Residents, landowners and farmers said the noise levels and the loss of 53,000 acres of Burke County farm land would damage the quality of life in the area and provide little economic value.
Dr. Norwood said he would help the Navy with any needs for an alternate site selection.