Outreach and Communication for Planning Coordination

What's In This Section

  • Why communication and coordination are so important for compatibility planning
  • Examples of successful communication/coordination strategies between Maryland military installations and communities
  • Examples of successful communication/coordination between military installations and communities in other states

Communication between military and stakeholder groups is crucial to successful compatible land use planning since it increases a mutual understanding of concerns, priorities, and planning processes. State and local government officials have the authority to pass and implement land use regulations and plans to ensure planning for growth is efficient, coordinated, and consistent with community and economic development objectives and state planning requirements. Since these plans and regulations can affect Maryland's military installations, it is imperative that military leaders and planners have a seat at the table when planning is done at the local and state level. Military representatives are vital community stakeholders as are residents, employers and employees, developers, and interested organizations. Without adequate input from the military, state and local government officials will not have sufficient information to adequately assess the impacts of their growth management and land use decisions on military operations and mission readiness.

Similarly, by sharing information about assigned missions and changing operations with state and local government officials, installation commanders and their staff can obtain information that helps them minimize impacts to the surrounding communities, while still meeting their mission objectives. Without adequate and timely input from each party, it is difficult to assess the impacts of development, growth management, and land/air/resource use decisions on either side of the fence.

Formalized outreach and communication practices are the best way to ensure coordination between all parties, and strikes an appropriate balance between growth, environmental protection, and military operations. Communities in Maryland and across the country continue to recognize the importance of collaboration and work to create formalized communication and coordination practices in partnership with military installation representatives. Examples of formalized practices include:

  • Installation representation as ex-officio member role on community planning committees
  • Policies that require military installation representatives to be included in community planning efforts, such as comprehensive or master plans
  • Regular updates by military installation representatives to planning commissions and their staffs about installation planning efforts and mission objectives
  • Installation-distributed newsletters, such as the Army Alliance Newsflash, used to share current news stories, upcoming events, and other defense community information for Aberdeen Proving Ground.
  • Community notification of testing and operations via installation social media channels or other platforms.

Maryland Examples


Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River: NAS Patuxent River continues its strong relationship with St. Mary's County and surrounding communities with a series of efforts aimed at increased communication and collaboration.

NAS Pax River Cooperation Agreement First signed in 2007, the Cooperation Agreement Between the Commanding Office, NAS Patuxent River, and the St. Mary's County Board of County Commissioners for Encroachment Mitigation and Prevention (Agreement) establishes baseline parameters to keep the community and installation up to date on respective activities. 

Agreement parameters include:
  • ​Twice yearly meetings between county representatives and the Navy
  • A Navy technical advisor review of any development proposals in the vicinity of the base as part of the County's evaluation committee process for any proposed development
  • Collaboration on citizen outreach regarding potential encroachments
  • Collaboration on analysis and data collection to "provide clearer quantitative measures of encroachment threats and the progress of mitigation and prevention measures"
  • Collaboration on encroachment threats from beyond St. Mary's County
  • Working together to create Air Installation Compatible Use Zone (AICUZ) recommendations for Webster Field

Community Committee Participation by NAS Patuxent River Community Planning Liaison Officer (CPLO) NAS Patuxent River's CPLO acts as the bridge between the installation, the community, local governments, and other stakeholders regarding compatibility between the installation and its surroundings. The CPLO engages with the community in several ways, including participating in the following committees and groups, both regional and local.

Fort Meade Community Covenant Council: Fort Meade works closely with surrounding communities to support their needs, while furthering the installation's mission and providing resources to service members, military families, contractors, and veterans. The Fort Meade Community Covenant Council was formed to strengthen the region through partnerships and innovation by building relationships, encouraging collaboration, and combining resources to support the community. The Community Covenant Council is comprised of representatives from Howard and Anne Arundel counties, neighboring communities, federally elected officials including Maryland's Governor, and numerous civic and business organizations, such as the BWI Business Partnership, the Baltimore Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce, the Fort Meade Alliance, Corvias Military Living, USO of Metropolitan Washington, and the Central Maryland Chamber of Commerce.

Among other charges, the Community Covenant advances communication and coordination by serving as the Garrison Commander's resource for relevant community information while also working as an outlet to increase the surrounding region's understanding of Fort Meade and its operations. The Community Covenant is updated and signed each time a new installation commander is assigned. A typical assignment period is normally two or three years but may be shortened in case of other mission needs. More information, including specific pledges in the covenant can be found in the most recent signing from 2019.

Fort Detrick Containment Lab Community Advisory Committee (CLCAC): The CLCAC was established in 2010 and fosters two-way communication between Frederick County residents and officials and Fort Detrick regarding its high containment laboratories, solicits community input on laboratory operations, seeks ways to address any concerns, and analyzes and makes recommendations about laboratory operations improvements to ensure public health and safety. The CLCAC works independently from, and has no authority over, operations at the laboratories and only addresses current and future potential contamination issues

Frederick County and Frederick City elected officials appoint CLCAC members which include seven regular and two alternate members. The Committee is composed of experts in the life sciences and health fields, at-large community members, and military representatives. The CLCAC bylaws govern committee membership, roles, scope, goals, and responsibilities. Meetings occur in January, April, July, and October, on the second Tuesday of the month. Agendas, minutes, and video recordings are available on the CLCAC webpage.

Maryland Military Installat​​ion Council (MMIC): The MMIC is a forum for open communication and dialogue between military installations, state and local governments, citizens groups, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) regarding encroachment issues and compatibility concerns as communities and installations grow into the future.

While the MMIC is established at the state level through the Maryland Department of Commerce, local governments should be aware of the MMIC, attend bi-annual meetings, and seek to engage with relevant MMIC partners within their own planning practices. Check out more information on the MMIC.

Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) - MACo is a non-profit and non-partisan organization that works to support Maryland's counties in the General Assembly. The organization shares the needs of local county governments with the Maryland General Assembly. MACo members determine the Association's policies and positions on executive and legislative proposals. MACo is made up of four chapter organizations, including one to represent rural counties and one for Maryland's larger counties.

​Maryland Municipal League (MML)​ - MML is a non-profit and non-partisan organization that supports Maryland's cities and towns through advocacy and promotion of effective leadership. MML conducts research, supports legislation, provides technical assistance, and information sharing to help strengthen the role of municipal governments throughout the state. As the organization is a part of the National League of Cities, MML can lobby Congress and is closely connected to other municipal governments across the country through its involvement in urban research programs.

Communities in Other States


Bay County/Naval Support Activity (NSA) Panama City Communication and Coordination Manual: Bay County, FL, in collaboration with NSA Panama City, completed a Compatible Use Study (CUS) in 2009. One of the key issues identified was the lack of established communications between the jurisdictions and the military base. The CUS recommended developing a communications manual that outlined formal procedures for communications and correspondence between all stakeholders. The resulting guide Communication Coordination Manual (CCM) (2012) provides information such as the boundaries and critical infrastructure (e.g., drinking water plants, utility grids, etc.), and points of contact for various functions at NSA Panama City, Bay County, City of Panama, and City of Panama Beach. The CCM also provides a series of checklists for stakeholders to help them ensure proper communications and coordination not only occur, but occur at the right time. For example, when the NSA Panama City Installation Development Plan requires an update, there is a checklist that the base commander and staff can use to ensure notification and pre-coordination is completed before the update begins and that feedback is sought from the appropriate community stakeholders during the planning process.

Washington State Guidebook on Military and Community Compatibility: This guidebook provides community stakeholders with information, tools, and processes that will help them not only improve communications, but facilitate their development of new, or updates to existing, compatibility plans without necessarily needing the services of a contractor or consultant. The guide provides step-by-step procedures, document templates, links to online resources, and other information that allows community members, local planners, and military planners to integrate compatibility planning into their local land use planning processes. The guide also provides information and recommendations for incorporating military stakeholders throughout the planning and implementation process. Recognizing that funding sources are scarce and highly competitive, the guidebook provides communities and military installations across the state with a comprehensive resource they can use internally to build awareness about the importance of collaborative planning around civilian-military land use, promote on-going communication, and further successful compatible land use and development in their communities.

Southern Maine/Seacoast New Hampshire/Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Communication and Collaboration Partnership: The Portsmouth Shipyard, located in Kittery, Maine, is an important driver of economic development for both New Hampshire and Maine. It is also the oldest existing Naval Shipyard and a source of pride for the local community. To promote communication and collaboration among local governments, the Shipyard, state and federal agencies, and community organizations, a Memorandum of Understanding was developed to establish the guiding principles of the Southern Maine/Seacoast New Hampshire/Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Communication and Collaboration Partnership. Eight cities/towns and two regional planning commissions signed the MOU in 2021. The partnership document commits all parties to work together to better coordinate and communicate on issues such as military relations, transportation and land use planning, housing, environmental protection, resilience, emergency preparedness and other areas of critical importance, such as workforce and economic development. The parties also work together to help federal agencies better account for the needs of the communities and region around the shipyard. The MOU is documented in a Joint Communication Manual that provides other useful content that supports implementation of the MOU, such as information on state and local planning frameworks and the Naval Shipyard installation planning process to increase understanding across all stakeholders.

Other Examples


National Association of Counties (NACo)

Founded in 1935, NACo is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States, providing support to the nation's 3,068 counties. The organization works to advance issues under a unified voice before the federal government and improve the public's understanding of county government.

NACo continues to work with the DoD and other military partners to develop training opportunities on collaborative land use and participation among decision makers from military installations, defense communities, and surrounding municipalities. NACo's Veterans and Military Services Committee engages members to highlight county-level best practices and policies that promote innovative programs in support of the DoD and service member's families.

NACo has published a series of primers meant to increase communication and collaboration in support of compatible use.

  • Working with Local Governments: A Practical Guide for Installations
    • This primer provides information on tools and techniques for local governments, military installations, and other stakeholders on how to balance the military's mission with local governments' need to grow in support of community development.
    • The primer acknowledges that there are common misconceptions regarding communication between the DoD and local governments and works to clarify these misconceptions with a one-page summary of the common misconceptions and clarifications.
  • Counties and Military Installations 101
    • This primer provides a unique focus on promoting compatible land use and community development through the 2018 Farm Bill and highlights the importance of building relationships between county and DoD leaders in support of this objective.
    • Successful examples of existing partnerships or partnerships between counties and military installations that have leveraged Farm Bill funds and other federal programs supporting compatible land use implemented at the local level are showcased throughout the primer.
  • Encouraging Compatible Land Use Between Local Governments and Military Installations: A Best Practices Guide
    • This guide provides examples of best practices that communities and military installations can implement in support of land use compatibility. Communication and coordination are key best practice themes featured.


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