Local Government Planning and Tools to Support Compatibility Overview

Population growth and pressure for urbanization continue to affect military training and readiness across the country, impacting military installations, ranges, special use airspace, military operations areas, and military training routes. Military installations are also not immune to increased threats from extreme weather, global pandemics and conflict, civil unrest, cybersecurity threats, and aging infrastructure. These threats do not stop at the fence line. These shared threats further emphasize the need for military installations and surrounding communities to build and maintain enduring partnerships, grounded in mutual respect and support. Community leaders need to understand military missions, operations, and how development can positively or negatively impact those activities. Installation leadership needs to understand community concerns, including public health and safety, and goals for continued growth and economic development. Both parties should engage with consideration and education about potential impacts from military operations on the surrounding community.

To minimize or avoid conflicts between military operations and community development, local governments in Maryland use a variety of tools and approaches available, such as comprehensive planning, zoning and development regulations, capital improvement programs, and building codes. These are significant guidance and regulatory tools local governments can use in support of compatible military-community development and continued military operations. These tools guide and regulate land use, development density, building height and character, and construction practices. They can further ensure that infrastructure is adequate in areas directly adjacent to a military installation and within the broader military operational footprint that extends beyond the installation borders where incompatible activities in neighboring jurisdictions can also impact military operations (e.g., vertical obstructions in special use airspace, frequency impedance in radar areas, etc.). Other tools, such as military air installation compatible use zones, noise management plans, special use airspace, and ​military operations areas, etc. are used by the DoD to represent areas for consideration for compatible development and localities should develop guidance and regulation based on the location and nature of these areas.

Open and ongoing discussions between an installation and the surrounding community allows local planners and community leaders to better understand the consequences of their development decisions, while providing installation leaders a better understanding of the planning, community growth, and economic development needs of neighbors. Military installations need access to air, land, and sea space, with limited interference to continue training missions and perform testing. Understanding a military installation's operational footprint allows local government staff and elected officials to make informed decisions about community growth and development that avoid or minimize adverse impacts on the military installation and its operations.

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