Military growth related to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) 2005 decisions at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) includes: the stand-up of the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Initial Joint Training Site (IJTS); and relocation of the U.S. Army's 7th Special Forces Group, Airborne (7 SFG) from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The net growth to Florida's tri-county area of Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton Counties and their local jurisdictions is estimated at 10,000 people, including family members. Eglin AFB occupies more than 465,000 acres of land in the tri-county area, with Okaloosa County virtually bisected by the Eglin reservation. The remaining two counties also contain significant portions of the AFB within their boundaries.
A comprehensive tri-County (14 city) Growth Management Plan has helped prepare the region for mission growth. The goal of the Growth Management Plan was to provide the affected local governments with a predictive assessment as to: 1) where the military personnel and dependents are expected to reside in the region; and 2) their incremental impact on facilities and services beyond what currently exists or is planned for by the local government based on normal growth.
The assessment of existing governmental service conditions and potential impacts as a result of the BRAC growth, along with the recommendations contained in the Growth Management Plan, are derived from the adopted level of service standards of each county or municipality. In addition, there are recommendations for policy changes to be implemented through comprehensive local plans and small area studies to be conducted to provide more specific guidance for future development.
The Growth Management Plan consists of the following components: 1) an atlas and qualitative assessment of existing conditions covering demographics, economy, land use, housing, transportation, utilities, education, health care, public safety, and quality of life; 2) a development suitability analysis to identify the most likely areas for new or expanded development; 3) an evaluation and selection of alternative growth areas; 4) a development plan with recommendations; and 5) an implementation schedule.
The document is organized by county, but preceded by a discussion of the demographics and economy of the three-county area and a discussion of the development suitability analysis, which narrowed the most likely growth areas in each county.
Within each county, the topical elements are divided into four areas: Land and Homes; People and Jobs; Support Infrastructure; and Community Fabric. The Support Infrastructure section is further divided into Transportation, Utilities, and Public Safety, while Education, Health Care, and Quality of Life are grouped under Community Fabric.
The planning process engaged a broad spectrum of residents and service providers in the tri-county area. In addition to an executive committee made up of key county and city representatives, Eglin Air Force Base, chambers of commerce, and economic development agencies, there also were ten sub committees whose members were engaged in one of the ten functional areas identified as key interest areas/areas of concern: Transportation, Education, Environment, Utilities, Public Health, Housing, Planning, Economic Development, Law Enforcement, and a Citizens Advisory group. Each of these committees includes community representation plus members of the Eglin Air Force Base staff. These sub committees provided vital input and review of the documents created and the overall process to ensure community concerns were adequately addressed.
To view the community's 2009 Mission Growth Profile, click here.