BRAC Early Bird 7 September 2005 Page: 7 of 10
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commission was demanding Virginia Beach do
and how much it would cost.
At the urging of Vice Mayor Louis Jones, the
council took steps to hire a consultant to start
adding up the potential cost of the commission's
requirements, which include buying and clearing
1,800 homes and an undetermined number of
businesses from the crash zones near Oceana's
runways. Some city officials have suggested the
price could reach $500 million.
The Base Realignment and Closure Commission
voted two weeks ago to move Oceana's 244 jets
and roughly 12,000 jobs to Cecil Field in Florida
unless Virginia Beach takes steps to reverse
decades of suburban encroachment on Oceana,
which is now the Navy's main East Coast jet
base. The commission gave Virginia Beach until
the end of March to choose.
But City Manager James Spore told council
members the city has yet to receive any formal
documents spelling out the commission's
demands. Even after those documents arrive --
probably late this week -- the city will need to
discuss them thoroughly with the U.S.
comptroller general's office, which would be
responsible for deciding whether the city had
complied, Spore said.
The council was advised to stay calm and keep
all its options open in the meantime. But the
strain was beginning to show for some council
members, who may have to vote whether to give
up Virginia Beach's largest employer or spend
hundreds of millions of dollars to displace
residents who have lived on the fringe of the air
base for as long as 30 years.
A half-dozen of those residents attended the
meeting yesterday carrying placards with
messages such as "Save Our Homes" and "Stand
up for Your Citizens." Councilwoman Rosemary
Wilson told them that taking their land by emi-
nent domain "is the very last thing we'd ever
want to do." Councilwoman Reba McClanan
said, "I don't want people to think the decision
has already been made."
Councilman Ron Villanueva suggested Virginia
"get equally cutthroat" with Florida, which
aggressively lobbied the base-closing
commission to move the jets to Cecil Field near
Jacksonville. Villanueva said Virginia should
send representatives to the Sunshine State to
undercut its arguments that Cecil Field would be
a better location. But state Sen. Kenneth W.
Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, said the opportunity to
make such a case apparently had passed.
Other council members suggested the state
challenge the legality of the base-closing
commission's ultimatum to Virginia Beach.
Stolle and state Del. Terrie L. Suit, R-Virginia
Beach, suggested lawyers were looking into that
but declined to discuss specifics. Stolle
cautioned that Florida officials were closely
monitoring what Virginia officials said and did
Several council members said the city should
research the history of development on the edge
of Oceana so the public would know whom to
blame for the encroachment. They said the news
media had placed an unfair portion of that blame
on past city zoning decisions.
Suit stressed there were no plans to close
Oceana, only to move the jets. But she said it
was unclear what Navy operations and jobs
would exist at the base if the jets left. That is one
more crucial piece of information the city needs
to decide what to do, she said. Suit compared
Oceana to "a high-performance car that we're
looking at losing the engine from."
Mayor Oberndorf said Gov. Mark R. Warner
was appointing a state task force to deal with
Oceana and other Virginia base closures and
realignments, and that representatives from
cities throughout Hampton Roads probably
would take part, because the loss of the jets
would affect the entire region. The City Council
took steps to form its own task force and said it
would seek public comments.
The base-closing process is lengthy and
complex. The commission is due to present its
recommendations to President Bush at the end of
this week, and Bush can accept them, reject
BRAC Commission Early Bird
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United States. Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission. BRAC Early Bird 7 September 2005, text, September 8, 2005; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc23921/m1/7/: accessed November 14, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.