CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) - Chesapeake City Council voted Tuesday to reverse a previous rezoning vote, after officials with the Navy said the property was too close to Fentress Air Field.
The 15-acre site off Mount Pleasant Road where 31 homes were planned is not far from Fentress where F/A 18 Hornet pilots practice landings.
Fourteen people spoke up at the meeting, 12 of whom were hoping the council would keep its initial vote.
"We had always thought that was always residential because we have a school across the street," resident Bill Devins said.
Of the city's seven council members, only two opposed the amendment, raising concerns of a rushed decision.
The council invited members of NAS Oceana and Fentress to the meeting to clarify the Navy's position with the zoning law.
"Any encroachment on Fentress affects the operations at Oceana and Fentress, so we were very clear in our concerns that building close to Fentress constitutes what could be a threat to the future viability of Oceana and Fentress," NAS Oceana Commanding Officer Capt. Bob Geis said.
In response, Chesapeake resident Donna Ertel said the Navy should not have been allowed to demand the vote be reversed.
"The Navy has no grounds for demanding the complete dismissiveness of the City of Chesapeake with regard to control a residential development," Ertel told council Tuesday.
If it were passed, the encroachment of Fentress Airfield could qualify for Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). In 2005, BRAC recommended the operations of NAS Oceana be moved to Florida due to zoning encroachments in Virginia Beach.
"I can't talk about BRAC, obviously, it's something that could happen in the future but I don't want to speculate on that," Geis said.
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