Originally created 04/03/02

Barnes writes against airfield



Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes has joined a growing list of politicians who oppose the Navy's plan to consider a rural corner of Burke County as a contender for a noisy military airfield.

"I am writing to urge you not to locate the Outlying Landing Field for the FA-18E Super Hornet squadron in Burke County," Mr. Barnes wrote last week in a letter to Navy Secretary Gordon R. England.

The Navy is evaluating seven sites - the other six are in North Carolina - for the $40 million airfield, where the new attack aircraft will practice mostly nocturnal takeoffs and landings.

Hundreds of Burke County residents have lobbied against the project, citing concerns about noise and devalued property. The airfield requires 2,000 acres and easements that could affect an additional 53,000 acres.

Mr. Barnes - whose letter follows similar missives from U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood and U.S. Sens. Max Cleland and Zell Miller - says the airfield would "have a significant negative impact" in Georgia.

"The citizens of Burke County would gain very little if the OLF is located there," the governor wrote. "There would be few if any new jobs created and it would have a negative impact on the county's agricultural industry."

A draft Environmental Impact Statement that will help in the siting decision is under final preparation and is expected to be completed by mid-June, Navy Chief Petty Officer Patrick Schuetz said.

No final decision will be made until later in the year, he said.

Reach Robert Pavey at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 119, or rpavey@augustachronicle.com.