Land use and military integration

A Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) is a cooperative land use planning effort conducted as a joint venture between an active military installation, surrounding cities and counties, state and federal agencies and other affected stakeholders.

Three of the military facilities in or near San Antonio have conducted or are in the process of conducting a JLUS. These include studies for JBSA-Camp Bullis, JBSA-Lackland and JBSA-Randolph. Each of these studies provides:

  • A detailed land use assessment for surrounding high growth areas;
  • A baseline of existing incompatible land uses around the installation;
  • Assessments of regional growth trends along designated transportation corridors;
  • A plan to assist surrounding communities with decision-making; and
  • Recommendations and strategies to promote compatible land use planning around the military installation and surrounding communities.

Supporting Infrastructure and Connectivity: Fort McPherson, East Point, Georgia

In 2011 Fort McPherson, the seventh largest employer in the Atlanta metro area, closed during the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, resulting in a loss of 9,600 direct and indirect jobs. Despite years of advanced knowledge of the closure, the 486-acre site sat vacant and in poor condition until a 330-acre portion was bought in 2015 to be used as a film studio lot. Even though the City and County put forward their best efforts, the site provided challenges which severely impacted its functionality and future usability. Namely, the site was boxed in by transportation infrastructure (highways and railway tracks) that largely eliminated pedestrian access; is surrounded by a high blight and unemployment area with many vacant buildings and a lack of amenities; and required expensive upgrades to its road, electrical, power and water networks. While each military installation and city is different, the case of Fort McPherson offers valuable lessons. Importantly, cities must recognize the immense land use and infrastructure challenges posed by large base closures. Advanced planning, investment and coordination are required by the City, military, and other municipal partners to address infrastructure (water, power) and connectivity (roads, transit) issues that will help the former base successfully integrate into the city’s fabric.

The effect of implementing JLUS recommendations has led to increased levels of cooperation and communication and shifted the tone and language of the dialogue regarding the interaction of military and community uses. The prevalence of encroachment issues is gradually giving way to an increased focus on encouraging compatible land uses in the future. Furthermore, there seems to be a new emphasis and commitment to planning for better integration of military installations, activities, personnel, families and veterans into the city fabric.

In addition, we should collaborate with potential developers, realtors and homeowners to identify areas of compatible development and work with them to integrate affordable housing, desired services and other appropriate uses.

We must also collaborate with military installations to understand potential issues affecting mission readiness and military quality of life. When possible, City projects and investments should be aligned with needs on and surrounding JBSA facilities. Road construction and investments to manage congestion on major roads leading to installations is one example; SAWS collaboration on water projects to ensure reliable supply to base is another.

Finally, active engagement by the City’s Office of Military Affairs and other task forces and commissions is also crucial to maintaining the success of San Antonio’s military missions. Cities that actively address legislative and regulatory issues at the state and national levels can ward off situations that may compromise military installations and missions, protecting their ability to maintain or even gain missions if future rounds of Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) occur.

The City of San Antonio has established a Military Transformation Task Force (MTTF), tri-chaired by members of the City of San Antonio, Bexar County and the business community. The mission of the MTTF is to foster communication between the military and the community, enhance mission readiness, sustainability and infrastructure, advocate for the military at the local, state and national levels, and evaluate the impact of any Department of Defense reductions.

JBSA Coordination Planning

The Air Force has funded an Installation Development Plan that lays out the proposed development of each San Antonio military installation. The Plan is expected to be complete in Fall 2016. In addition, there are several Air Force Community Partnership projects being explored at select San Antonio military installations.