In the past, it was commonly understood that, when residents moved near an active installation, they implicitly accepted impacts such as military aircraft noise. But as communities continue to expand around installations, residents may move in who do not fully understand the nature of military training and operations, or who may have moved in during a lull in military activity, when noise and other impacts are at their lowest. Both situations can result in complaints about military operations.
One possible solution to this issue is the
Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program, which authorizes an installation to purchase land that falls within a critical mission area. That can be expensive, however, and even then, the acquired land may only encompass a portion of a much larger area of impact. The acquisition of affected land also can place a greater responsibility on the installation to manage lands that do not directly support its operations, which places it beyond the installation's core responsibilities.
As an alternative to land acquisition, land development regulations are a way for communities to shape development in a way that reduces conflicts with the continued safe and effective operation of nearby military installations. Regulations allow local governments to plan for the effective use of public and private lands that lie outside the installation but are nevertheless affected by its operations. An example would be to limit residential densities in mission critical areas, while allowing agricultural operations or light industrial uses in the same location, without restrictions.
Military compatibility ordinances also allow for the protection of the installation's interests, regardless of whether a private landowner is aware of its operations. Military overlay zones allow planners to effectively communicate and regulate desired land uses in areas influenced by military operations. The process of developing such regulations allows an installation to share information about its operations and requirements with the public.