Citizens group starts jet noise complaint line

Citing a lack of trust for the Navy’s public input hotline, the Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve has created its own jet-noise complaint hotline.

The Navy resumed touch-and-go operations Monday, Jan. 6, at Outlying Field Coupeville. Residents in the area have complained about the increase in the number of operations at OLF in recent years. COER sued the Navy in July and are calling for the closure of OLF.

“When the planes resume flying over our homes, schools, and hospital, we’ll be ready to take complaint calls,” said Michael Monson, president of COER.

“Callers can talk to real people starting on Thursday, Jan. 9 and not a recorded voice. We expect complaints from all of Whidbey Island and beyond.”

The Navy created a new complaint line and online complaint form last year in response to community concerns about noise.

Monson said the COER hotline is needed because “many people do not trust the Navy to keep track of complaints or to treat them seriously.”

It is COER’s intention to keep track of the complaints it receives and forward them to the Navy, according to a COER news release. COER also plans to analyze the complaints and use them to support their argument for the closure of OLF and transfer of the EA-18 Growlers, which perform the touch-and-gos at the airfield, to another base.

“Aircraft noise, in particular low-altitude over-flights, is a public health issue that must be addressed to reduce the negative health outcomes of community members. COER looks forward to assisting people who are being harmed by unsafe noise levels in the coming weeks, by listening and recording their comments,”said Monson.

“Requests for anonymity will be respected.”

In an emailed statement, the Navy said that it takes the obligation to communicate with the public very seriously. Not only does the Navy attempt to respond to concerns, but it hopes to impart “an understanding of operations that do impact them as a result of training and operations that occur on the base.”

“We will contact folks who provide us feedback. We have incorporated new processes, improved others, and taken steps to inform the public about our operations. We also work with elected leadership from the communities to discuss concerns and look for mutually beneficial mitigations.”

In reference to COER’s new hotline, the Navy said that base personnel will continue to “respond to citizens that contact us directly, however we will not communicate through other groups to provide feedback to citizens.”

“We encourage people to continue using the processes we have established. Every comment is viewed by several different officials in the command, and we communicate with members of the public on a daily basis. It’s important for everyone to understand that while we take their concerns seriously and understand the impacts our operations may have on them, we will tell them what we can.”

COER claims to have more than 3,000 supporters. The Sierra Club and the National Parks Conservation Association recently joined COER in opposing Growler training flights at OLF Coupeville.

COER’s toll free complaint hotline number is 800-830-4078. Monson said it will be staffed 24 hours a day.


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