The communities surrounding Cannon Air Force Base (AFB) have a long history of supporting its Airmen and their families. After a 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission decision to close Cannon AFB unless the Department of Defense identified a new mission, the Secretary of Defense and U.S. Air Force decided to transfer the base from Air Combat Command to Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), eliminating the existing F-16 tactical fighter mission and bringing in C-130, CV-22, and Predator special operations missions. The new mission, the 27th Special Operations Wing, began in October 2007, resulting in the addition of an estimated 1,213 net personnel.
To address challenges associated with the mission transition, Curry and Roosevelt Counties and the Cities of Portales and Clovis collaborated to form the Local Growth Management Committee (LGMC). With assistance from the Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA), the LGMC and its consultant team completed a Regional Growth Management Plan (RGMP) in June 2009. Housing and land use emerged as key areas of concern. The LGMC contracted with an Albuquerque-based planning firm to assist the community in implementing the highest priority recommendations of the RGMP and establishing the Regional Growth Planning Office. In a parallel effort and responding to a recommendation of the RGMP, Curry County sponsored a Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) for Cannon AFB and Melrose Air Force Range. Curry and Roosevelt Counties accepted the JLUS Final Report in March 2011.
Despite the recent national decline in the housing market, the cost of housing surrounding Cannon AFB has remained stable. The majority of new homes built in off-base markets in the surrounding areas have been above the affordable price range for the majority of Airmen based at Cannon AFB. Additionally, many military personnel moving into the area have come from areas where the housing market suffered significantly and, as a result, they are upside down with existing house payments, complicating the sale of their existing homes and accessing financing for new homes in the Cannon community. On-base dormitories have exceeded maximum capacity for the past 18 months, and Cannon AFB has identified a need for more apartments, duplexes, and rental housing in the area. A May 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office cited a projected deficit of 530 family housing units at Cannon AFB, significant competition for available housing within the community, and rental housing occupancy rates exceeding 99 percent in 2010 and 2011. To address affordable housing challenges, the LGMC created a Housing Task Force, supported by the Regional Growth Planning Office, which meets with Cannon AFB officials, local developers, and bankers to seek local and regional solutions.
With respect to land use, the Joint Land Use Study found that alternative energy projects, such as wind turbines and transmission lines, have the potential to pose a significant challenge to sustaining the mission of Cannon AFB and Melrose Range if not planned and sited appropriately.
The LGMC has combined efforts to carry out recommendations of the Regional Growth Management Plan and Joint Land Use Study, and will work with a consultant to sustain the Regional Growth Planning Office and help internalize RGMP and JLUS recommendations into everyday community operations.
To view the community's 2009 Mission Growth Profile, click here.