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Dahlgren, K.G. agree on need for smart growth
King George supervisors will move forward with a plan to study the community's impact on the base-and vice versa

Date published: 10/11/2012


Current residential and commercial growth around the Dahlgren area hasn't impacted operations at the Navy base.

But future growth could, especially because King George County's Comprehensive Plan designates Dahlgren as a growth area.

That's why government officials, including Capt. Peter Nette, the commanding officer at Naval Support Activity South Potomac, want to be sure people at the base are talking with people in the county.

"For us, encroachment is an action that can infringe upon the base and the community," Nette said Wednesday night. "You can encroach on us, and we can encroach on you."

The best way to avoid encroachment, officials said, is to have a dialogue among those involved. That's why Nette and a Department of Defense representative met with King George supervisors Wednesday to start looking at the impact the community has on the base--and vice versa.

Supervisors agreed to move forward with what's called a Joint Land Use Study. The study is a planning effort between a military installation and the communities that surround it.

"This is not an anti-growth program," said Rich Tenga, a project manager with the DoD's Office of Economic Adjustment. "We know cities and counties have to grow."

The point of the study, Tenga said, is for the community and the military base to know what the other is planning, whether it's a new military mission or a hotel and pier across from the Navy's test range.

Nette put it this way: If a builder wants to put up a 15-story building at the end of the Navy base's runway--and the Navy has plans to reactivate the runway--the location may not be ideal. But if the builder knows of the Navy's plan and moves the project away from the runway, both parties could be satisfied.

"It's just understanding each other's concerns," said Nette, who added that he knows the county's growth plan calls for more settlement around the Navy base:

"All I ask is that consideration should be given to the missions at the base to see if they are compatible."

Board of Supervisors Chairman Cedell Brooks Jr. said the joint study "seems like a win-win situation." He initially asked about the point of the study, if it was to keep the base people happy so operations would stay there.

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ENCROACHMENT: The Navy identified five types of encroachment that have potentially high impacts on the base at Dahlgren: urban development; people not being able to use the Potomac River when the base is doing testing; keeping a safe distance from exploding devices; threatened and endangered species; and competition for air, land and sea. WHAT ABOUT THE RUNWAY? The Navy base has a runway, which is used by helicopters but little else. In the future, the Navy may explore the use of unmanned aerial systems at Dahlgren, said Capt. Peter Nette. STUDIES that look at the relationship between communities and military installations have been done at 94 bases since 1985. Another 60 are in the works, mostly on the East Coast. WHEN MOST of the military's 500 bases in the United States and its territories were built, they were located in rural areas, according to a video called "The Base Next Door." Zones that were kept clear to protect civilians from noises and potential accidents are now filled with homes, businesses and places of worship, according to the video. A SIGN on one military base reads: "The noise you hear is the sound of freedom."