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Jet noise dispute to land in Langley
Seeking support and hoping to educate South Whidbey residents on its cause, Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve will visit Langley this week.
The group, embroiled in a battle over jet noise and U.S. Navy operations at Outlying Field Coupeville, will speak and listen Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Langley United Methodist Church. According to COER member Michael Monson, the meeting was planned last month and at the request of residents.
“They’re affected,” Monson said of people on South Whidbey. “So we’ll do our song and dance any place … There were enough that said, ‘Will you please come down and explain what’s going on.’ This was by request.”
COER’s scheduled appearance was a surprise to some city leaders, including longtime Councilwoman Rene Neff. The visit, however, was not announced at City Hall, nor has public support been sought by COER from the city.
“We haven’t even discussed it actually,” she said. “And no one has come to the council meeting to discuss it either … We’re not directly involved.”
Langley’s role in a fight 22 miles north was not made clear by Monson, nor clearly understood or even accepted by Neff. The published flight path has the jets flying in loops over Central Whidbey and a bit south of Coupeville, well away from the Village by the Sea. But Monson, who set up a phone line for people to voice their complaints regarding jet noise, maintained that calls were made from Greenbank, Freeland and Langley. Most recently, COER made a stop in Port Townsend to hear their concerns about jet noise and a proposed increase in Field Carrier Landing Practice operations at OLF Coupeville.
“Lo and behold, calls were coming in from everywhere,” Monson said. “They were coming in from Port Townsend, from La Conner, from Langley, from Lopez Island.
Despite his claim, Neff said she did not plan on attending the meeting. She isn’t, however, apathetic to Central Whidbey citizens’ and business owners’ concerns. Neff said she heard from friends around Coupeville that were upset with jet noise as they hosted weddings and other events. She instead referred to her duties to Langley and its residents.
“Personally, at this point, I don’t know that it’s my place to take a position on that issue,” Neff said, later adding, “On the other hand, if the Navy went away, that would be a huge, huge loss.”