CHESAPEAKE -- On Tuesday, Chesapeake City Council voted unanimously not to allow 31 new houses to be built near Fentress Field.
After their original vote, the council came under fire from a number of people, including Virginia Senator Mark Warner, for violating an agreement Chesapeake and Virginia Beach had signed, vowing to fight residential and commercial encroachment around Fentress and Naval Air Station Oceana.
The so-called Bradshaw property is 15.6 acres of mostly undeveloped land off Mt. Pleasant Road, near Fentress.
Last week, the Navy sent Oceana Commanding Officer, Captain Bob Geis to Chesapeake City Hall to meet with council members and to explain why controlling growth around the air field is important.
In 2005, the federal Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission took action which almost closed Oceana and sent its18 fighter squadrons and 14,000 workers to Florida. The main reason for that vote was all of the development around Oceana.
'The presence of the Defense Department installations throughout the region is so important to our well-being,' said retired Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, who serves as Executive Director of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance.
Quigley is concerned that the Department of Defense, as recently as last month, under former Secretary Leon Panetta, urged Congress to authorize up to two new BRAC rounds in 2015 and 2017.
'We need to be very careful to take every step we can to give the department no reason to go after an installation for closure if there is a future BRAC round,' said Quigley.
Long-time Mt. Pleasant Road resident Grace Swain thinks more houses near Fentress is a bad idea and she's glad to hear that the council is reconsidering it.
'I would think it would be very dangerous for the pilots and for the houses too. I would just think it's not safe for either one,' Swain said.