Lowndes County is not “the only community in the country with a MAZ”: Houston County has very similar zones of encroachment protection around Warner Robins Air Force Base (RAFB).
As we’ve already seen, Houston County is buying up houses around RAFB using $7.5 million from the state of Georgia. That’s in addition to $6 million from Bibb County and some unspecified amount from the Defense Department. Plus Houston County allocated $7 million from SPLOST funds, and their SPLOST won by a landslide, apparently partly for that reason.
But what are those encroachment zones around Warner Robins AFB depicted on the buyback map? I called Houston County to find out. Their Community Planner, Jacob Cox, said yes, Houston County has crash zones, and noise attenuation zones in which they can have businesses but not residences.
He pointed me to The Robins Air Force Base and Middle Georgia 2004 Joint Land Use Study, which notes:
The 2004 JLUS examines land issues as they relate to RAFB flying missions and suggests measures to ensure compatible land use in the Base environs now and into the future. The 2004 JLUS process utilizes information provided in the 1998 RAFB Air Installation Compatibility Use Zone study (AICUZ) to evaluate land use compatibility and regulatory adequacy in areas subject to air hazard potential and noise impact. Additional considerations related to air navigation, including air protection surfaces are examined. Clear Zones and Accident Potential Zones are all considered compatible with AICUZ guidelines. Incidences of incompatible development are predominantly restricted to a limited number of non-noise attenuated residences built prior to 1994.
The results of the 2004 JLUS demonstrate that previously adopted land use regulations have been effective in limiting incompatible development within the Base environs. The 1994 adoption of the Base Environs Zoning District (BEZD) model by the surrounding communities has served to check most encroachment-type development. Only a very low number of sporadic, isolated examples of noise-related incompatible development was observed to have been built since implementation of the BEZD land regulation strategy. Consistent local government implementation of adopted provisions must be maintained in order to continue to provide the protection necessary to prevent incompatible development from restraining Base operations in the future.
So as far back as 1994 the communities around RAFB were using zoning to limit base encroachment. The 1998 AICUZ recommended further Clear Zones and Accident Potential Zones. Why? Mission changes at RAFB. So the 2004 JLUS made recommendations and the local governments, including Houston County, decided to go ahead and do something about it.Continue reading