Coun­cil adopts In­dian Head Joint Land Use Study

Maryland Independent - - News - By TIF­FANY WATSON twat­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Tif­fIndyNews

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.”

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