As a resident of Coupeville who lives in the middle of the OLF Coupeville touch-and-go pattern, I wanted to write a calm and rational response to last weekend’s rally in Oak Harbor.
I, and most residents of Coupeville, certainly support the Navy. We are not unpatriotic. We do support our Navy and the country they are sworn to protect.
When I bought my home 15 years ago, I was aware of the proximity of OLF Coupeville. I questioned my neighbors, Realtor, the home seller and everyone else I could about the noise impact. I spent several evenings sitting in a car near my future home when the planes were flying so I could gauge the noise level for myself. I decided the noise was irritating, but tolerable, given that they only flew a few days per month.
Over the past 15 years, conditions changed. The Navy switched jets to the much louder Growlers and announced its intention to dramatically increase the number of flights and days. This fact is often ignored by those who condemn my neighbors and me for objecting to the fact the Navy has unilaterally changed the equation.
Protesting the attorney general’s lawsuit against the Navy demonstrates ignorance of how our government works and the Navy’s role in that government. As I understand the issue, the attorney general alleges the Navy broke the law by not carrying out a proper environmental impact study prior to changing the flight pattern and frequency. By filing a lawsuit, the AG is asking an independent court to evaluate the allegations. If no law was broken, so be it.
If, in fact, the Navy did break the law, then the suit has merit. Protesting the lawsuit itself is essentially saying the Navy is above the law and cannot be challenged, even if it violates our country’s laws. I respect our sailors enough to recognize that not even the Navy believes it is exempt from the law. It seems that this controversy has been set up an “us vs. them” situation.
The majority of the noise complaints come from the Coupeville area, and the so-called “pro OLF” crowd is from Oak Harbor. But here’s the thing — when I visit Oak Harbor, I hear jets flying most days. But they’re much quieter there — the flight pattern over most of the city has the planes flying higher and “cleaner.” When they’re flying over my neighborhood they are low, slow and much louder. With a series of planes flying in a pattern, the noise is constant, never really easing. It seems disingenuous for Oak Harbor residents to lecture Coupeville residents about how bad the noise really is.
Don’t presume that, because the noise doesn’t bother you, that others have no right to complain when the Navy becomes more intrusive and changes the conditions we had when we chose to live here.
Support the Navy and have your rally, but respect your neighbors and the fact that even the Navy must obey the law.