Council adopts Indian Head Joint Land Use Study
Development of the Indian Head Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) report has been an ongoing process for Naval Support Facility Indian Head and the Indian Head Town Council. As the development process comes to a close, the town council looks forward to pursuing the implementation process of the report.
On Dec. 5, the council voted to adopt the Indian Head JLUS report after a presentation by Amy Blessinger, a planner with the Charles County Depart- ment of Growth and Management. According to Blessinger, the JLUS grant and contract expires Dec. 31 and the JLUS process has been underway for over two years now.
“It is a living document and ongoing process,” Blessinger said. “The study itself was just the beginning of the process.”
According to the JLUS com- mittee, the purpose of the report is to promote compatible civilian development near mil- itary installations by using the local planning process. The committee’s goal is to protect the viability of current and future missions of NSF Indian Head while also sustaining health, safety and economic of development of the community.
The collaborative process involved local elected officials and military command staff, community leaders and area residents.
Recommendations from the JLUS committee include: im- proving interagency coordina- tion; increasing awareness of military missions; coordinating land use planning between the Navy, Town of Indian Head and Charles County; pursuing partnerships for land preserva- tion; and developing business and economic opportunities by forming a redevelopment group.
Blessinger said some of the key findings from the study were that naval base operations have the potential to produce noise that can disturb surrounding communities and future residential growth, especially around the Stump Neck Annex. The noise also has the potential to put pressure on NSF Indian Head to curtail operations due to noise impacts.
She said the town should con- sider updating or expanding real estate disclosures, distributing noise notifications and providing information to boat- ers and recreational users.
The additional key findings will help the town ensure that lands remain compatible with the military mission and warn that the groundwater use is lim- ited due to aquifer drawdown, which can potentially impact both the town and the naval base. Blessinger said a strong, vibrant town is compatible with base operations. Therefore the town’s revitalization efforts should be carefully considered in light of any existing opera- tions.
Vice-mayor Ron Sitoula said the town does not want to threaten anything that NSF Indian Head does and the town’s development needs to be in compliance with its operation.
The report process began with interviewing stakeholders from June to September 2014, a public forum on Jan. 28, 2015, a second public forum on March 25, 2015, a JLUS Policy Committee approval on Aug. 11, 2015, and a town and county adoption process from Septem- ber 2015 to this December.
“I think it was important as a council to take the time to discuss it, talk about it and get the reassurance that it is a living working document that allows us to move the town forward,” Mayor Brandon Paulin said. “Living, working documents are the best kinds because you can tweak [them] based on the town’s needs and necessities.”
The JLUS committee wants to assure Indian Head residents that the report text and maps have been updated to be consistent with the Charles County Commissioners’ adopted 2016 Comprehensive Plan.
According to Blessinger’s presentation, the county staff recommends that the exam- ination of consistency — with ongoing town and county plans and studies — should be made a priority for the JLUS implementation work group.
“After the adoption of the JLUS, a JLUS work group will be formed to monitor the progress of implementation of the study recommendations,” Blessinger said.
She said the town should also consider integrating NSF Indian Head into planning processes and meeting regularly to discuss compatibility issues during the implementation process of the JLUS report.
“The next steps are based on the recommendations, so we will be meeting with the county and making sure that even our revitalization efforts are in compliance with the JLUS,” Sitoula said. “But first we just wanted to make sure that the citizens have consistent information.”
Councilman Curtis Smith said the presentation was very informative.
“I think it gave citizens insight into the length of the process and the importance of us adopting it,” Smith said. “We didn’t have any hurdles to jump over and we were able to adopt the JLUS report as read. It was pretty consistent but it was good that to see they included the county’s concerns. As we go through the implementation process, if we continue to keep the presentation consistent and updated, it keeps everyone informed.”