Land use study unifies community

The Joint Land Use Study (JLUS), commissioned by the Curry County commissioners and funded by the Department of Defense, is an opportunity for the surrounding communities and Cannon Air Force Base to work together to identify and begin to address areas of common interest.

Getting Cannon off of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) turned what could have been a major negative economic impact to the local community into a significant opportunity to grow and move forward. It also gained a responsibility to ensure that promises made become promises kept.

Cannon is nominally one-third of the local economy and by 2016 will have a military community of 15,000 to 16,000 personnel, active duty, government civilians, permanent contractors and family members. The new mission is significantly different from the days of the F-111s as well as those of the F-16, and so are the needs. Curry and Roosevelt counties are also different as the business and agricultural communities expand and adapt to market and geographic realities. Renewable energy is evolving as arguably the next big undertaking in economic activity, not only for the local area but also the nation. There is nothing that I can think of that leads me to believe these activities are incompatible. But they will require us to identify and discuss the complexities and interactions if we are to maximize their potential.

As part of the JLUS, local elected officials agreed to undertake a good faith effort to address the areas of concern identified through the various panels and meetings. Areas identified not only by the base, but also by the local community as they may relate to compatibility. It is intended to be an interactive process. The outcome of this process, it is hoped, will be options and recommendations for our elected officials to discuss and ultimately decide.

JLUS is not an alternate legislative or legal process. Neither I nor any other base representative qualifies as an elected official. If there are areas that the Air Force or DoD can address unilaterally, or in conjunction with the Congress or state, the JLUS will provide a basis to begin the process for potential resolution.

Regardless, JLUS is an opportunity for us to come together as neighbors and discuss those issues of concern that will impact our long-term success. It is a natural evolution in a changing environment that should be seen as a positive rather than a threat. If nothing else, we will get to know each other better and form a strong partnership moving forward.