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Dyess Air Force Base Joint Land Use Study

2018 Outstanding Collaborative Planning Project Merit Award

American Planning Association, Federal Planning Division

The focus of the Dyess Air Force Base (AFB) Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) was largely on identifying existing and potential incompatible land uses within the AFB airfield accident potential zones (APZs) and noise contours. On the north end of the runway, most of the small City of Tye is located within the APZs and noise contours, and the City had no land use controls to ensure compatible development. On the south end of the runway, the unincorporated communities of View and Caps are within the APZs and noise contours. The property owners there do not desire any type of regulatory land controls that limit the use of their land for residential development.

To overcome the competing interest among stakeholders, Matrix conducted one-on-one meetings with property owners and special interest groups throughout the process to educate them on the value of the JLUS, identify compatibility strategies that effectively balanced all stakeholder interests, and to earn their trust. The study ultimately earned a unanimous vote to approve. This robust stakeholder engagement effort was built on the Three Pillars of Collaboration: Educate, Build Trust, and Gain Consensus.

Educate. Focusing on education early in the JLUS process increased stakeholder understanding of how Dyess AFB benefits neighboring communities, of specific mission needs that extend beyond installation boundaries, and the role that compatible land use plays in supporting those needs. This component of engagement also informed Dyess AFB of local concerns about military operations, historic growth trends, needs for future economic growth, and planned developments to support those needs.

Build Trust. Building trust was the lynchpin to successfully completing the JLUS, particularly since stakeholders had different points of view and were skeptical of collaborative planning efforts. Stakeholders with conflicting opinions, goals, and needs for compatible land use around Dyess AFB were asked to participate in small group exercises and workshops designed to find common ground, build trust, and gain explicit commitments to work together. These interactions provided stakeholders first-hand experience with the respectful voicing and consideration of all concerns, effectively encouraging further participation.

Gain Consensus. Matrix’s engagement strategies built consensus and buy-in among all participants through individual and small group interactions, stakeholder committee meetings, and public workshops and exercises that garnered input throughout the JLUS process and provided numerous opportunities for individuals to help develop solutions to incompatible resource use and future planning recommendations. Many techniques were employed to reach specific meeting goals, including informational sessions, “response clickers” that support real-time, anonymous feedback, comment cards, interactive mapping, and other exercises.

Although consensus did not come easily for the Dyess JLUS stakeholders, the three-pillar approach created the relationships and opportunities that allow for creative brainstorming and the development of both practical and desirable solutions. In several instances, soliciting property owners’ and other area residents’ input during the development of strategies for mitigating compatibility issues shifted attention towards non-regulatory options that balance the protection of military goals and operations with community goals and property rights.