Lemoore Plan Faces Resistance

Most At Meeting Against New Homes Near Base

LEMOORE — An overwhelming number of people who attended Monday’s Lemoore Planning Commission meeting spoke in opposition to the city’s proposed 2030 general plan, which calls for some homes to sit directly beneath an established flight path east of Lemoore Naval Air Station.

For the second time in a month, commissioners delayed their recommendations on the general plan after four hours of public comment and a flyover of two Super Hornets at Lemoore’s West Hills Community College campus.

Discussion will continue at the commission’s next meeting April 14.

As the jets soared 1,600 feet above the ground, voices were drowned out by the aircraft for at least 30 seconds.

“See, the jets are already getting pretty noisy and they’re not even over us yet,” said Lemoore resident Richard Plummer, who is opposed to the general plan.

Lou Martinez of Hanford also attended the flyover. He said, “That was pretty loud. I wouldn’t want to live here.”

Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the Lemoore air station, said before the meeting began that it was important to provide commissioners a better understanding of the noise level with jets flying in the exact flight path and altitude.

“People talk about the noise level … and we just wanted to provide an objective ‘Here it is and this is what it sounds like,’ ” McGrath said.

Commissioners said Monday the decision is not an easy one. Their decision to recommend or modify the general plan will go to the City Council, which will make a final decision.

“Somebody’s going to be upset and somebody’s going to be happy,” said Kimberly Moss, chairwoman of the commission, during the meeting. “I think we’re doing the best we can with the information we have.”  Commissioner Lisa Elgin opposed the plan to build home west of Highway 41. “I think building residential homes out there is absolutely irresponsible,” she said, adding that residents in the area would be in a flood zone and give up legal rights to sue over noise issues.

The city’s environmental impact report — which was approved by commissioners at a March 10 public hearing — projects about 23% of the 7,000 new residents would be exposed to noise levels that would be expected to cause residents to be “highly annoyed.”

The proposal has met repeated objections by the Navy. Officials have contended that if residential areas are built under a flight path, the Navy could face lawsuits or be forced to make changes to current flight operations because of complaints about noise levels from residents.

The air station was built in 1961 seven miles west of downtown Lemoore and houses the West Coast fleet of fighter jets.

City officials said they have worked hard to mitigate noise by reducing the number of homes close to where most of the noise would occur and requiring extra insulation in homes.

Complicating the issue is the city’s 1997 annexation of land reaching toward the air station. The Lemoore campus of West Hills College opened shortly after the annexation and now a developer is working to build 350 homes just north and west of campus.

City officials said the Navy stayed silent and did not make any objections at the time.

“If we didn’t build the college out there and we didn’t have an existing subdivision … it would be easy to say, ‘OK, let’s go in a different direction,” Holly Smyth, Lemoore’s planning director, said before the meeting.

But several community members told commissioners it isn’t too late to reverse the decision made more than 10 years ago.

William Bowen, a Navy veteran, was one of them. Bowen was a member of the Planning Commission that approved the annexation. He said he approved the plan at the time because there were no objections and he wanted a community college in the area.

“I can accept my part of the blame,” Bowen said. “We didn’t know this was going to be a big deal.”

Back to Top