OEA continues to assist communities, both large and small, with adapting to Defense program changes. Communities benefit from decades of OEA knowledge and community best practices, allowing them to leverage state and federal resources to proactively and positively change their individual community.
Each project highlight story below showcases a challenge the community is facing and how this community, with OEA support, is working to solve it.
Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi
Columbus Air Force Base (AFB) encompasses 4,931 acres (4,408 of which are federally owned). The 14th Flying Training Wing (14 FTW) military operations include flight training for the T-6A Texan II, T-38C Talon, and T-1A Jayhawk. The 14 FTW averages 280 sorties daily from three parallel runways, and a fourth auxiliary runway 30 miles away uses 34,000 square miles of airspace and averages 90,000 flight hours annually.
The installation is located nine miles north of the City of Columbus in the unincorporated area of Lowndes County within the rapidly growing industrial corridor of central Mississippi. The areas to the east and south of the installation in Lowndes County are experiencing significant commercial growth. Columbus is the largest town on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and is the site of Lowndes County East Bank Port and new West Bank port, which opened in 2007. The state's third largest airport, the Golden Triangle Regional Airport located in Lowndes County 35 miles southwest of the installation, has general, military, and commercial aviation. The growing aerospace industry operates at the 6,500 acre Golden Triangle Industrial Aerospace Park, adjacent to the airport. Both public and private entities use the regional airspace, to include testing of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and helicopters. To accommodate Columbus Air Force Base operations and private sector Defense aviation testing, the regional airport is in the process of extending the runway from 6,497 to 8,000 feet.
Joint Land Use Study Planning Process
The two primary goals of the Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) are to protect the operational and training mission of the base and protect the health, safety, and welfare of citizens living and working near Columbus AFB. These goals can be accomplished through improved understanding of flight and other operations at the base and through improved local land use and airspace planning. Although existing residential and commercial development within the Accident Potential Zones (APZs) is compatible, Lowndes County has no comprehensive development regulations to guide compatible development around the installation. Current county zoning regulations are limited to height and sound restrictions within the APZs. The JLUS planning process will result in recommendations to support compatible land uses and airspace capacity around Columbus AFB, allowing the community to better guide and manage civilian development. The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors will be the study sponsor and fiscal agent, and the Columbus-Lowndes Development will oversee the Joint Land Use Study process and grant performance.