Daily Press

The state and the city of Virginia Beach are seeking legal advice in response to the federal base-closing commission's decisions to close and realign military installations in Virginia.The Virginia Beach City Council, which was given a directive to condemn and acquire property around Oceana Naval Air Station in order to keep the master jet base, directed its city attorney Tuesday to investigate possible legal action.

Council members said they wanted to know whether the Defense Base Closing and Realignment Commission overstepped its authority with its demand that the city and state spend $15 million a year to acquire property near the base most prone to accidents. If the condition is not met, the commission said, the jets will be moved to Cecil Field in Florida.

City officials initially estimated that some 1,800 homes would have to be acquired, but said Tuesday they had miscalculated and increased the number to 3,000.

Kevin Hall, a spokesman for Gov. Mark R. Warner, stressed that the state's decision to retain the services of Hunton & Williams law firm was to explore "all of our options" as officials determine exactly what the BRAC Commission is requiring. He said the action would not necessarily lead to a lawsuit.

Also Tuesday, Virginia's two U.S. senators, John Warner and George Allen, said they do not plan to appeal to President Bush to try to alter the BRAC Commission's vote on Oceana. The president has until Sept. 23 to accept the commission's report or call for changes.

Besides its order on Oceana, the commission voted to close Fort Monroe in Hampton and relocate more than 20,000 military and civilian defense workers from leased office space in Arlington County and Alexandria. *

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