PORT HUENEME — Navy officials said Wednesday that they will move ahead with an ambitious plan to expand a radar testing facility at Port Hueneme, despite a ruling by the state Coastal Commission that ordered a halt to the project.
"We believe we are complying with all state and federal laws with this project and that's as far as we had to go," said Charles Giacchi, executive director of Port Hueneme's Naval Surface Warfare Center. "We have gone to great lengths to comply with the Coastal Commission and satisfy their concerns, and we don't believe we can do any more."
The Navy's decision sets the stage for a potential courtroom showdown if the commission decides to file suit against the Navy to force a compromise.
"That's an avenue the commission could and may pursue," said Mark Delaplaine, federal consistency supervisor for the commission. "The commission came in with a very reasonable recommendation and the Navy chose to reject it."
At issue is the commission's request that the Navy include a civilian expert on a panel that will monitor health issues related to the radar facility, formally known as the Surface Warfare Engineering Facility.
The state said a civilian was necessary to answer questions of objectivity that arise when government agencies, such as the Navy, monitor themselves.
The Navy refused.
The Coastal Commission is scheduled to discuss its options regarding the Navy expansion at its meeting in June.