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Fort Drum Joint Land Use Study

2019 Outstanding Collaborative Planning Project Merit Award

American Planning Association, Federal Planning Division

The Fort Drum Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) was a collaborative planning effort to identify and address compatibility issues at Fort Drum associated with development activities occurring around the installation. The project was developed as a partnership among the City of Watertown; Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence Counties; Fort Drum; other neighboring communities; local agencies and organizations; and the public.

The primary focus of the JLUS was to examine the impacts of existing wind energy development projects on radar systems and flight training areas, as well as how the cumulative effect of additional wind energy projects would increase military impacts. Fort Drum’s airspace and radar operations were heavily threatened by several proposed wind energy development projects near the installation. Existing and potential future wind energy development impacts to Fort Drum’s Digital Airport Surveillance Radar and KTYX Weather Surveillance Radar were identified as the most important compatibility issues to assess and work to mitigate.

Other compatibility issues that were assessed included land use and zoning trends within surrounding communities, existing and proposed development within the airfield accident potential zones and noise contours, protection of special use airspace and flight corridors, the availability and affordability of local housing, availability of adequate regional medical  and emergency services, and the conservation of lands around Fort Drum to protect natural resources and provide buffer zones between military and community activities. The JLUS presented historical and current growth patterns and trends, such as changes in population, housing values, the number of housing units, and economic drivers for the communities and their relation to Fort Drum. Matrix worked closely with stakeholders to develop an Implementation Plan with actionable strategies for addressing identified concerns and delivering mutually-beneficial results for both Fort Drum and partner communities. The strategies focus on improving and formalizing communications among stakeholders as the foundation of desired outcomes.

This project was guided by a robust stakeholder and public engagement plan. The Steering Committee and Technical Working Group were composed of local community and organization stakeholders, as well as technical staff from Fort Drum, to help guide JLUS development. The final study is a collaborative document shaped by local interests and stakeholders to help Fort Drum and its neighbors enhance and continue their partnerships well into the future.