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DoD sponsors Whiteman joint land use study

KNOB NOSTER, Mo. -- The Department of Defense office of economic adjustment recently awarded a grant for the base and the local community to conduct a joint land use study to be conducted in the fall. 

The study will look at appropriate land use for areas 5-8 miles around the base, to include the city of Knob Noster.

Earlier this year officials from Knob Noster, Whiteman Air Force Base and Johnson County commissioners met with representatives from the office of economic adjustment to discuss the pursuit of the JLUS grant.

The purpose of the JLUS is to assist local community leaders and installation commanders with encroachment issues and incompatible development. "Joint planning activities can help resolve current incompatibility problems and avoid future conflicts," said Garry Gontz, OEA project manager.

The $150,000 grant will allow the JLUS policy and technical committees to work with a professional consultant in an effort to get recommendations for the prevention of encroachment on the base and help plan around land development issues in order to protect citizens in the surrounding are.

"Air Force and Missouri Army National Guard operations at Whiteman can be loud and present inherent safety concerns for nearby communities," said Col. Eric Single, 509th Bomb Wing vice-commander. "This grant will enable us to work directly with those most affected by our operations and discuss potential operational impacts and ways to avoid critical encroachment issues while answering the public's questions concerning the recent Missouri State Zoning legislation.

"The goal of the joint land use study is to continue to reduce the impact of military operations by providing a forum for a more in depth dialogue with our civilian neighbors, providing benefits to both the local community and Whiteman," Colonel Single added.

A request for proposal will be published in newsprint and on professional Web sites. Once the RFP's are returned, the policy committee will approve a final consultant to assess current conditions, determine current and future needs, identify resource needs and potential sources and provide recommendations with an action plan.

Specifically, the JLUS will address, at a minimum, planning and development uses, their incompatibility and how they adversely affect the public health, safety and welfare of those involved and the encroachment it may cause for Whiteman.

Actions will be identified that could and should be taken jointly by the community and installation to solve existing encroachment problems and prevent future ones.

"I am pleased the Whiteman planning group was able to secure the joint land use study grant," said Rep. David Pearce, 121st District. "It will be a tremendous tool in making plans to develop compatible land uses and ensure the future of the base in Johnson County.

"I am grateful for the interest and concern Johnson County residents have shown in developing this plan and I look forward to its results," Representative Pearce added.

Whiteman, Johnson County commissioners and the city of Knob Noster have served as the foundation in developing the policy committee, the steering committee and the technical committee to guide the process.

"The JLUS technical committee has worked tirelessly since Whiteman was nominated for the study in May 2005, to get to this point," said Randy White, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron engineering and planning chief. "I have been asked to assist in the firm selection over coming months and am looking forward to maximizing Whiteman's potential, which is important for our future."

The policy committee is comprised of an elected representative from Johnson County, the Knob Noster city administrator, a Whiteman official, a Knob Noster citizen, a local realty representative, a Whiteman planning and zoning committee representative, a land owner, a Knob Noster planning and zoning representative and the Missouri 121st District, state representative.

The steering committee is comprised of a representative from each of the participants in this process; Johnson County commissioner, City of Knob Noster city administrator and an official from Whiteman.

The technical committee consists of four representatives from Whiteman, the Knob Noster building inspector and a landowner. The city of Knob Noster will serve as the grant administrator.

The project is expected to take eight to 12 months for completion, with opportunities for public participation and input.

"I am pleased to see the Department of Defense recognizing the importance of Whiteman Air Force Base and helping to maintain its long term viability with this grant," said Congressman Ike Skelton, a long-time friend and supporter of Whiteman. "Encroachment is a serious issue at several military bases around the country. This funding will allow the city Knob of Noster and Johnson County to have a proactive approach to maximize the opportunity for military use of Whiteman."