Alamogordo Daily News - March 21, 2013, By Janessa Maxilom
Otero County and the city of Alamogordo are in a large Joint Land Usage Study with surrounding counties, cities and military instillations to find out if there are any encroachment issues.
Otero County Manager Pamela Heltner is co-chair of the technical committee that oversees the JLUS project.
"The JLUS helps to identify existing and potential land-use conflicts that have the potential to impair the military's mission and impact public health and safety confronting both civilian and the military instillations," Heltner said.
The issues a JLUS focuses on are air installations' compatible use zones, range air installations' compatible use zones and accident potential zones, environmental noise management and natural resources management.
The counties listed in the JLUS project are the Do-a Ana, Otero, Lincoln, Socorro and Sierra in New Mexico, and El Paso County, Texas. The cities listed in the project are Alamogordo, Las Cruces and El Paso. The military installations involved are White Sands Missile Range, Holloman Air Force Base and Fort Bliss.
"It is one of the largest Joint Land Usage Studies conducted in the United States," Hanson Scott, the New Mexico director of the office of military base planning, said.
According to Mark Wright, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, the three military installations encompass more than 3.4 million acres with restricted airspace covering nearly 10,000 square miles in both New Mexico and Texas.
The counties, cities and installations formed a Regional Planning Organization for the purpose of conducting the JLUS. The RPO consists of a policy committee RPOPC and a technical committee RPOTC.
The RPOPC and RPOTC are both made up of 16 members from the counties, cities and installations.
"A lot of it (the JLUS) will show how important the bases are for our communities," Heltner said.
Heltner said all the counties and cities involved with the local military instillations have been collaborating to get the JLUS project started since last spring.
Heltner said Do-a Ana County is serving as the fiscal agent for the RPO and was made responsible for applying for a grant from the DOD Office of Economic Adjustment.
"We were awarded the grant in August," said Daniel Hortert, director of Do-a Ana County's fiscal responsibilities.
The cost to conduct the JLUS is $500,000, according to Hortert, who also said the parties involved had to pay 10 percent of the cost to qualify for a grant from the DOD.
The grant money was used to hire an outside consultant that would conduct the JLUS for all the stakeholders.
The consultant company that was selected to conduct the JLUS was AECOM Technology Corp. AECOM which is headquartered in Los Angeles is a company that partners with national, state and local governments to provide technical, operational and professional management solutions.
According to Elizabeth Drake, the JLUS project manager from AECOM, the company is currently conducting interviews with stakeholders in the JLUS.
"The JLUS itself is very much about the surrounding community, so we interview many people as stakeholders, including residents and landowners, in the area," Drake said. "It's about promoting compatibility."
Drake said the JLUS project could be broken down into four phases and that the current one is still in its first phase. The first phase is gathering data; the second phase is figuring out compatibility issues; third phase is developing strategies; and the fourth phase is creating the plan for all the parties involved in the JLUS.
According to Hortert, the JLUS will be conducted until Nov. 30, 2014, and public out reach about the study will begin sometime this summer.
Heltner said the public outreach effort is to insure the public has a say on potential encroachment issues.
"The end goal is to have the study which will have recommendations on where encroachment issues may be," Heltner said.
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The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.