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  • Writer's pictureAbbey Ness, AICP

TSG is a Leading Provider of AICUZ Studies

The Schreifer Group, along with JV partner JG&A and valued subcontractor Prospect Hill Consulting, is pleased to announce that we have been selected to complete Air Installations Compatible Use Zones (AICUZ) Studies, noise simulation videos (NSVs), and peer literature reviews for the Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) as part of a multi-year contract. The contract includes Air Force installations in the southeast, south, and western contiguous United States, as well as Alaska and Guam.


Our team is one of the leading providers of AICUZ Studies for the U.S. Air Force due to our expertise in land use planning, air operations, and community engagement. We have directly managed or supported 10 AICUZ Studies in the past four years and have consistently received glowing reviews about our work from our installation-level clients.


Protecting Communities Around Bases with Air Operations

The majority of military bases in the United States were built rapidly during or immediately after World War II. These bases were typically sited in remote areas so that the military activities associated with them (e.g., air operations, artillery firing, explosions) would not affect a large number of civilians.[1] Over time, however, development sprang up around the bases, as military and civilian personnel affiliated with the bases desired to live close to where they worked, and because the base population generated demand for accessible services and amenities.


This increasing urban development meant that more people were being exposed to noise and safety impacts related to military operations. And while it might be tempting to blame the people who chose to live close to the “sound of freedom,” there were no regulations at the time that required them to be notified of the potential impacts before purchasing a home in the affected areas – they had no idea of the noise and safety impacts until after they had invested in their new home. Understandably, people began complaining to local, state, and federal elected officials to try to influence the types of operations that took place at the bases.


Consequently, the Department of Defense (DoD) began exploring whether compatible land use policies might be able to help mitigate these conflicts. The AICUZ Program was created in the 1970s to promote these policies in communities around bases with air operations. While the DoD does not have the regulatory power to create or enforce zoning and land use policies, it uses the AICUZ program to convey the importance of protecting the general public from noise and safety impacts created by air operations, and to recommend compatible land use policies that local governments can choose to implement if desired.


Ensuring Land Use Compatibility

The AICUZ Study determines local land use compatibility within AICUZ noise and safety zones by using the following analytical framework:

  1. Identify the AICUZ noise and safety (accident potential) zones = These are areas underneath flight paths that are susceptible to higher noise and incidents of crashes according to statistical analyses. Noise zones are created with noise modeling software and are verified by on-the-ground noise measurements.

  2. Identify local land uses and zoning ordinances (allowed uses) under these areas = This information comes from the local jurisdictions around the base.

  3. Determine whether these land uses and allowed uses are compatible with the noise and accident potential zones generated by the air operations = This analysis is standardized across all DoD installations to ensure consistent outputs of the studies.

The output of the analysis is a map of parcels that are “compatible” or “incompatible” with air operations. Incompatible parcels are those that are exposed to higher-than-recommended noise levels or accident potential risks. For example, you would not want to put noise-sensitive land uses like cattle farming in a high noise zone, or high-density residential uses like apartments within a high accident potential zone.


With cases of incompatible parcels, it is advisable that the local jurisdictions take regulatory steps to mitigate noise and safety impacts, but this does not necessarily mean rezoning is needed. Other regulatory tools, like minimum floor area ratios or noise level reduction measures, can help prevent undue impacts without having to change the use of the parcel entirely.


Land Use Compatibility Analysis within Tinker AFB AICUZ Safety Zones

Promoting Community-Base Relationships

After completing the AICUZ Study itself, we create outreach materials explaining the study’s purpose and findings for distribution to the community. We also organize and host an open house where installation representatives can meet with community members to discuss the study and any concerns they might have about the base’s operations. This forum is a key part of the process, providing an opportunity to show community members how much the base cares about their wellbeing and appreciates their supports.


Community Members and Installation Representatives at the Vance AFB AICUZ Open House

Supporting National Defense

The Schreifer Group is proud of our work on the AICUZ Studies, which directly supports national defense by mitigating encroachment on air operations. We have completed AICUZ studies for very busy bases like Nellis AFB, which hosts planes from around the world as part of its Red Flag exercises, to bases like Vance AFB, which primarily hosts T-6s and T-38s in support of its undergraduate pilot training program.


Providing Quality Plans and Studies

The Schreifer Group enjoys partnering with installations to create quality plans and studies that meet your needs. To learn more, please contact us at info@theschreifergroup.com.



 

[1] There are of course exceptions to this rule, with some bases existing prior to World War II and others chosen for their proximity to existing strategic assets or transportation networks.

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