Island County gathers materials in response to court order

A federal court issued the subpoena for information related to jet noise from NAS Whidbey.

Island County staff members are in the process of gathering a wide range of documents and other media in response to a subpoena from a federal court.

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims issued the subpoena, at the request of the Justice Department, for information related to three cases filed against the United States that allege inverse condemnation because of the noise from EA-18G Growler jets at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

The three cases have been stayed pending the outcome of lawsuits in U.S. District Court against the Navy that were filed by the state Attorney General’s Office and the anti-noise group Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve.

These lawsuits claim that the Navy failed to follow federal law in creating the environmental impact statement regarding noise from an increase in Growler flights.

Two longtime residents filed lawsuits in the Court of Federal Claims. Ken Pickard and Bonnie Newkirk have properties that have been in their families for generations and, they claim, have been impacted by the increased noise and frequency of Growler flights.

In addition, attorneys from two national law firms, who represent 38 Whidbey Island residents, filed a claim seeking class-action status.

Island County is not a party in any of the lawsuits but has documents that may be relevant in defending the lawsuits.

The subpoena issued to the county is a broad demand for documents related to the impact of Navy operations in the county.

The request includes correspondence with a long list of the people and attorneys involved in the lawsuits.

In addition, it asks for documents, photographs, maps and recordings related to Growler noise, aircraft carrier field landing practices, correspondence and communication with a list of nonprofits, complaints about Growler noise and zoning regulations.

Island County Prosecuting Attorney Greg Banks said his office is acting as the primary point of contact for the Department of Justice.

Banks said the request is large but that county staff is working with the Department of Justice to narrow the scope.

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