Of­fi­cials dis­cuss Joint Base An­drews zon­ing changes

Plan looks to find bal­ance in base oper­a­tions, pro­tect sur­round­ing com­mu­nity

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES jclinkscales@somd­news.com

The Prince Ge­orge’s County Coun­cil and plan­ning depart­ment board held a joint pub­lic hear­ing Tues­day at the County Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing in Up­per Marl­boro on the pro­posed Mil­i­tary In­stal­la­tion Over­lay Zon­ing Map Amend­ment (MIOZMA) pur­suant to Part 10C of the county’s zon­ing or­di­nance.

The Mil­i­tary In­stal­la­tion Over­lay Zone (MIOZ) was cre­ated in Novem­ber of last year, af­ter the county’s zon­ing or­di­nance was amended via Coun­cil Bill 42-2105, to ad­dress reg­u­la­tions con­cern­ing the use and de­vel­op­ment of land within three over­lap­ping ge­ogra­phies — height limit, noise con­tours and safety zones — in the vicin­ity of Joint Base An­drews, ac­cord­ing to the plan­ning depart­ment’s web­site.

In a re­cent tech­ni­cal re­port, Plan­ning Board Chair­woman El­iz­a­beth M. Hewlett noted in her fore­word that the pro­posed MIOZMA will ap­ply the MIOZ to the ap­prox­i­mately 38-square-mile sec­tion of the county most im­pacted by flight oper­a­tions at Joint Base An­drews Naval Air Fa­cil­ity. It will not only re­clas- sify sev­eral prop­er­ties in the Forestville area to new un­der­ly­ing zon­ing clas­si­fi­ca­tions that in­crease their abil­ity to be de­vel­oped un­der this over­lay zone, but will also amend the Marl­boro Pike and South­ern Green Line De­vel­op­ment District Over­lay Zones to en­sure com­pat­i­bil­ity be­tween these over­lay zones, Hewlett said.

“It sim­ply is a zone that pro­vides use re­stric­tions, de­vel­op­ment reg­u­la­tions, site plan pro­vi­sions and per­mit­ting re­quire­ments in a ge­o­graph­i­cal area,” said Plan­ning Depart­ment Project Man­ager John Wooden. “The bound­aries of that area, which will be im­pacted by the zone, are fixed di­men­sions on the zon­ing map. It in­cludes bound­aries of an area called the safety zones, it in­cludes an area of noise con­tours and it has a num­ber of height-sur­face ar­eas that pro­poses height lim­its in the vicin­ity of [JBA].”

Af­ter all the de­vel­op­ment that has been al­lowed, the MIOZMA is be­ing pro­posed now be­cause the risks of air oper­a­tions have been ob­vi­ous to

area res­i­dents since JBA opened in 1943. This leg­is­la­tion will help min­i­mize future en­croach­ments as the Base Re­align­ment and Clo­sure Com­mis­sion has sought to close bases, or at the least, re­lo­cate crit­i­cal oper­a­tions to bases where en­croach­ments are kept at a min­i­mum. If this were to oc­cur at Joint Base An­drews, it could have sig­nif­i­cant im­pacts on na­tional se­cu­rity and to the county’s econ­omy, ac­cord­ing to the plan­ning depart­ment’s web­site.

Wooden said safety zones are ma­jor con­cern, es­pe­cially with there be­ing an air­port in cen­tral Prince Ge­orge’s County.

The safety zones are ar­eas of the high­est risk for an air­craft ac­ci­dent. Air­craft may crash into each other with po­ten­tial de­bris im­pact on the ground, they may crash into oc­cu­pied or un­oc­cu­pied build­ings or they may crash into the ground. These ar­eas in­clude Ac­ci­dent Po­ten­tial Zones (APZ) 1 and 2 and the clear zone, the area ex­tend­ing 3,000 feet from the end of each run­way, ac­cord­ing to a MIOZ tech­ni­cal re­port.

“Roughly 50 per­cent of ac­ci­dents on mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions would oc­cur be­tween the run­way and the first 3,000 feet of the run­way,” Wooden said.

Wooden said an­other con­cern is noise con­tours where flight oper­a­tions at JBA can reach or ex­ceed 74 deci­bels.

“There are a num­ber of uses that should not be placed in an area,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, high­noise ar­eas rep­re­sent about 0.35 per­cent of the to­tal land area in the county out­side of JBA. Uses are pro­hib­ited on vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions in­clud­ing child day care cen­ters, schools, play­grounds, be­fore- and af­ter-school recre­ational pro­grams, com­mu­nity swim­ming pools, out­door play ar­eas and all other ac­tive out­door recre­ational uses.

Height-sur­face ar­eas, which rep­re­sent about 6.61 per­cent of the county’s to­tal land area, in­clude de­vel­opable air space where build­ings, struc­tures, and man-made land­forms may be con­structed and into which veg­e­ta­tion like trees may grow. Any­thing that pen­e­trates the imag­i­nary sur­faces in­ter­feres with and presents a safety risk to flight oper­a­tions, the re­port noted.

Plus, many zones and uses within the MIOZ have no height re­stric­tions in­clud­ing most uses in com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial zones. As the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try evolves, tow­ers are be­ing con­structed at much higher heights than orig­i­nally en­vi­sioned by the county’s zon­ing or­di­nance. The cur­rent height lim­its for com­mu­ni­ca­tions tow­ers or poles are not ap­pro­pri­ate, as they are now, in ar­eas close to JBA. Land­fill and re­cy­cling oper­a­tions can also cre­ate man-made moun­tains that pro­trude into the height sur­faces, es­pe­cially in in­dus­trial lo­ca­tions east and south­east of the base, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

By com­pre­hen­sively iden­ti­fy­ing the max­i­mum height to which struc­tures or land­fill may grow, the MIOZ cre­ates a safety net that ac­counts for prop­er­ties where the use may change and where the ex­ist­ing zon­ing reg­u­la­tions did not account for height, Wooden said.

“It should be noted that most struc­tures will be reg­u­lated by the max­i­mum height per­mit­ted in your un­der­ly­ing zone,” he said.

The pro­posed MIOZMA, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, is an ex­er­cise of the district coun­cil’s au­thor­ity to pro­tect the pub­lic health, safety, and wel­fare through its zon­ing pow­ers. It is not in­tended to fa­cil­i­tate re­zon­ing of prop­erty; rather, the MIOZMA is in­tended to re­clas­sify the zon­ing of prop­er­ties within a clearly de­fined im­pact area, as well as to en­sure that the zon­ing of prop­erty does not in­ad­ver­tently or ex­pressly en­cour­age or re­quire de­vel­op­ment that is in­com­pat­i­ble with air oper­a­tions at Joint Base An­drews.

JBA 11th Mis­sion Sup­port Group Com­man­der Col. Wil­liam Kale tes­ti­fied in sup­port of the pro­posed MIOZMA be­fore the coun­cil and the plan­ning board.

“For more than 70 years, An­drews Air Force Base, now Joint Base An­drews, has sup­ported our coun­try’s mil­i­tary mis­sion here in Prince Ge­orge’s County. We value our re­la­tion­ship with Prince Ge­orge’s County and are com­mit­ted to the county’s suc­cess,” Kale said.

Since 2009, JBA par­tic­i­pated as an ex-of­fi­cio mem­ber in the joint land use study im­ple­men­ta­tion com­mit­tee. Kale said the com­mit­tee which de­vel­oped the MIOZ leg­is­la­tion has re­mained com­mit­ted to three im­por­tant ob­jec­tives — the vi­a­bil­ity of JBA’s future mis­sions, the strate­gic im­por­tance of the base’s na­tional se­cu­rity and the health, safety and wel­fare of both cit­i­zens and air­men who op­er­ate on and around JBA.

“The [MIOZ] leg­is­la­tion and the [pro­posed] map amend­ment bal­ances these ob­jec­tives and rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant com­pro­mise by the Air Force and stake­hold­ers here in Prince Ge­orge’s County,” Kale said. “Joint Base An­drews av­er­ages ap­prox­i­mately 25 in-flight emer­gen­cies a year. All of these have po­ten­tial for a crash with cat­a­strophic ef­fects.”

For Kale, he said im­ple­ment­ing the MIOZMA will ef­fec­tively strengthen the air field’s safety zones, re­strict in­com­pat­i­ble land uses, re­duce ex­po­sure to safety haz­ards and pro­tect the health, safety and wel­fare of over 600 prop­er­ties lo­cated in the clear zones and APZ 1.

For civil­ian and lo­cal res­i­dent John Cooper, he is not so sup­port­ive of the new leg­is­la­tion. He re­quested in­ten­si­fy­ing the zone clas­si­fi­ca­tion to ei­ther I-1 or C-M for his prop­erty which he said has been “se­verely im­pacted in a neg­a­tive way.”

“I’ve been try­ing to sell the prop­erty for years. I need to get out,” Cooper said. “The prop­erty is pretty much un­sellable right now and there’s no bank that will touch it be­cause of the over­lay zone and the zon­ing.”

Cooper said he’s owned the prop­erty for more than 50 years, but he’s hav­ing a hard time re­cov­er­ing from the neg­a­tive im­pact JBA has brought on it.

“It is se­verely im­pact­ing my fam­ily, it’s dev­as­tat­ing me fi­nan­cially, it’s im­pact­ing my health,” he said. “I’m beg­ging for help. I haven’t had any re­lief. I need some­one to help me.”

Although the district coun­cil rat­i­fied the MIOZ last year, it can­not be ap­plied to prop­er­ties in the im­pact area un­til the MIOZMA is ap­proved. The plan­ning board ex­pects an ap­proval some­time in Oc­to­ber 2016.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.