This week’s focus is on Encroachment around NAS Patuxent River and Webster Field Naval bases. At 2 p.m. Tuesday Aug. 21, the NAS Pax Commanding Officer is hosting a meeting with the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) at the Frank Knox Training Center (B2189) to review progress and status of the Cooperation Agreement on Encroachment Mitigation and Prevention signed between the two parties in April 2007. This will be the first semi-annual meeting as called for in the agreement. It will be part of this Tuesday’s BOCC meeting agenda and videotaped for replay on Channel 95.

What is Encroachment and why is it important? Encroachment is the term commonly used when development occurs too closely to a military facility. This type of development is incompatible with the mission of the base as it impairs operational capability while increasing safety and security risks in the areas surrounding the facility. Encroachment has been an issue for decades for the Department of the Navy and other U.S. armed services but in growing communities like ours it has become an acute concern, especially since the BRAC rounds of the 1990s. As newer Navy programs such as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) ramp up in the coming years at our two local bases, flight operations will continue to increase.

We are very fortunate that the County and NAS Pax have worked so closely to mitigate local Encroachment over the years. The County purchase and demolition of Lexington Manor “Flattops” is a great example of working together to fulfill our mutual interests. Our Cooperation Agreement formalizes this relationship and provides the framework to continue to work on important issues such as residential development in APZ-2 and around Webster Field.

I encourage everyone to become more familiar with Encroachment (if not already) along with some of the terminology that comes with it such as AICUZ, APZs, DNL, etc.

For now I’d simply like to provide some brief definitions of this new Encroachment vocabulary.

AICUZ (pronounced A-cueZ) stands for Air Installations Compatible Use Zones. AICUZ is guidance provided to local planners by the Navy that helps us better understand their mission requirements for flight operations in the immediate vicinity of the base. Its goal is to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the local community. To do this it addresses accident potential zones, noise levels, and other concerns that affect land use, zoning, development, and overall quality of life in surrounding areas.

APZ means Accident Potential Zones and generally consists of 3 zones. The Clear Zone is the immediate area beyond the runway where the highest risk of accident may occur. The term is self-explanatory. APZ-1 is the area beyond the Clear Zone where accident likelihood is still high so residential development is prohibited. APZ-1 for NAS Pax reaches into the northern edge of Lexington Park and includes Lexington Manor. APZ-2 is the area beyond APZ-1 where accident likelihood is still possible so residential development is strongly discouraged. APZ-2 for NAS Pax reaches deeper into Lexington Park and includes much of the commercial district and some older residential neighborhoods. To comply with AICUZ the County is proposing to prohibit new residential development within APZ-2. The BOCC is scheduled for a public hearing on September 4, 2007.

In addition to accident potential, noise abatement is a major issue in AICUZ. Anyone who’s lived here (or near any airport) knows that aircraft are noisy machines. Newer, more powerful and more capable aircraft will be even noisier. Again, fortunately we’ve worked very closely with NAS Pax and Webster Field over t