Letters to the Editor

APZ changes could chase Navy away

I see that Accident Potential Zones are back in play.

Becky Spraitzer and a few others are pushing to amend APZ restrictions, which were designed to limit development in the area underneath Navy flight patterns. In other words, in the places where an airplane is most likely to crash and burn. The idea behind APZ restrictions is to prevent mass casualties in the event of an accident; to prevent killing kids and their parents.

People who own property subject to APZ restrictions often want the restrictions relaxed so they can build wherever they like, or sell at a profit and move on.

Let’s not forget that, unless they acquired their property prior to World War II, the Navy and its airplanes were there when they acquired their property.

What are the stakes if we relax APZ restrictions? Who wins and who loses?

Winners: Property owners who can sell at a profit and move on. They can wash their hands of their noisy property and buy something quieter.

Losers: Everyone else. People who build in the formerly restricted zone will lose, because they will have to put up with jet noise and the ever-present possibility that they will be at Ground Zero when a plane falls out of the sky.

The Navy will lose, because people who build homes under the flight pattern will put pressure on the Navy to curtail noise and limit flight operations.

But here’s the big one! When the Navy considers base closures, encroachment is a major consideration. Encroachment, simply put, is civilians edging closer and closer to the base. If we relax APZ restrictions, we will hasten the day when the Navy will say, “Enough! Let’s move!”

And then there would be no jobs and no construction. There would be empty houses and stores and schools. It would take decades for North Whidbey to recover.

Don’t think it can’t happen. Whidbey NAS found itself on the base closure list once. It is one of the very few to survive being so listed. We want to keep the jobs, and our Navy neighbors and the other benefits that we enjoy by having the Navy nearby. Let’s not allow Becky and her friends to jeopardize all that.

Richard Niell Donovan
Oak Harbor


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