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Towns advised to update zoning near North airbase

Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2022
Source: B Gene Zaleski, The Times and Democrat
Towns advised to update zoning near North airbase

Local governments and municipalities near the North Auxiliary Airfield are being tasked with updating their zoning plans to ensure compliance with a recent zoning study related to air installations.

Private homeowners who live near the airbase are also being reminded about development and building restrictions in place due to the proximity of the federally owned airbase, according to a Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) and related 2019 Air Installations Compatible Use Zones (AICUZ) study for the airfield.

The North airbase is owned by the United States Air Force and is used by Joint Base Charleston (JBC).

"They (JBC) are wanting all affected counties and municipalities to show coordination and cooperation with adopting the plan," Orangeburg County Planning Director Amanda Sievers said.

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The municipalities of Livingston, Neeses, North and Woodford and the OCPC are being asked by the JBC to adopt or revisit existing overlay zones to ensure they are in compliance with the 2019 AICUZ report.

The study also is recommending Orangeburg County planning officials revise the county's existing Air Installation Overlay Zone.

A virtual public meeting was scheduled for Dec. 7 with Sievers, JBC and the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG) to discuss the study and to inform stakeholders and the public of the identified potential impacts of the 2019 study findings on the NAAF surrounding communities, such as noise levels and hazards to aircraft.

The meeting was also held to notify the public of the regulatory means in place to minimize and reduce land use and safety conflicts between the airbase and surrounding communities.

There was no one from the public who participated in the webinar so the meeting was canceled, but a slide presentation was created highlighting aspects of the study.

In 2008, the JBC completed a JLUS for the Charleston and North military air installations designed to manage land development within the general vicinity surrounding the base, to promote economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable development surrounding the base; and to encourage sound land use regulations to prevent incompatible land development near the base.

The JLUS identified several recommendations at that time.

These included the creation of a template overlay zoning district, the accessibility of the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program; sound and noise-abatement measures; and the need to update a communications plan.

Since that time, the BCDCOG has worked with the JBC military officials toward implementing the JLUS recommendations at the community level.

The Department of Defense’s (DoD) Office of Economic Adjustment in late 2017 provided the BCDCOG grant funding to work with community officials toward implementation.

An additional 2019 study complemented the 2008 findings and provided data on the airbase including operations, maintenance and utilization and also analyzed land uses around the base.

The study sought to address existing land use incompatibilities and minimizing future incompatibilities as well as responsible parties for implementing these strategies.

The 2019 study looked at seven footprint components of the airbase and the facility's impact on surrounding areas. The footprint components provide local governments and individuals guidance on the process of approving development projects near the airbase.

These footprint components include Hazards to Aircraft Flight Zone; imaginary surfaces; noise contours and noise zones; clear and accident potential zones; 3,000-foot Air Installation Consultation Perimeter and Federal Aviation Administration Notice Criteria tool for obstruction evaluation.

The study recommends any proposed project developers consult local county or municipal land planners and that local government planning bodies consult the U.S. Air Force before proceeding to ensure developments are in compliance with airfield operations.

The study notes that land owners, developers and land-planning bodies should understand that certain land uses can be restricted near the airbase.

The 2,400-acre air base serves as a training ground for JBC.

The 628th Civil Engineer Squadron at Charleston AFB provides a detachment to maintain and operate the airfield.

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Since the location is a certified controlled airfield, it is equipped with an air traffic control tower and a permanent aircraft rescue and firefighting station, both with memorandum of understandings with various local and federal agencies to ensure the safety of the service members and civilian agencies who utilize the airfield.

The base is considered a critical link in the tactical mission training of C-17 cargo planes.

It is used primarily for C-17 Globemaster III training by the 437th Airlift Wing and its Air Force Reserve “associate” unit, the 315th Airlift Wing, at Charleston AFB.

The airfield has also been used as a staging location for supplies following a natural disaster. The Federal Emergency Management Agency used the airfield during Hurricane Florence in 2018 as an incident support base for supply distribution.

For more information, online materials will be posted online for 14 days on the BCDCOG’s and Orangeburg County’s website for additional opportunities to submit questions and comments.

The public information materials can be accessed by visiting https://www.bcdcog.com/jlus/ and  https://www.jbcharleston.jb.mil/Portals/44/JB%20CHS%20NAAF%20AICUZ%20Study_100%20Percent%20FINAL_%20V3.pdf?ver=we-3ExbyYjyb3hNFjOXIWA%3D%3D.