Tue, Nov 13, 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Whidbey Island Nordic Lodge Hall
Community Workshop - The Washington State Department of Commerce is drafting a Washington State Guidebook on Military and Community Compatibility as a technical resource for local governments to use in planning for development near military installations.
• Island County defines an APZ as "In an effort to assist local government in communities which house military air installations, the Department of Defense provides information related to flight paths and tracks. Within those flight paths, the military maps areas that are considered Accident Potential Zones (APZ). An APZ is an area with a higher potential for aircraft mishaps. Once an APZ is mapped, the municipal government can use this information to inform and update their land use standards."
"An APZ is further divided into 3 sections. A clear zone is an exsiting requirement on all active airfields that extends 3000 feet from the end of the runway. APZ Section I and II areas are not mandated by the DOD to the local government. Information about the flight path, air traffic volume, and potential aircraft mishaps are provided to the local government by the military. It is at the discresion of the local government whether or not this information will inform changes to local land use standards.
Based on analysis, the DOD has determined the majority of aircraft mishaps occur on or near the airfield. The clear zone denotes an area of the highest potential for an aircraft mishap. This area extends 3,000 feet beyond each end of the runway, and is an exsiting requirement on all active runways.
What it actually means is that if you draw a border from the end of the paved landing strip at the Coupeville OLF using the APZ-1 dimensions you get a rectangular area encompassing about 90% of Admiral's Cove showing you where property values are about to freefall to the point that selling your property may result in about a 50% loss in it's value.
Ongoing court & editorial battles in Vermont, Wisconsin (where the Air Force is replacing F-16s with noisier F-35s) and other areas in the past indicate the military has no concern for area residents - it does what it wants to do regardless. The only thing that can modify their intentions are strong enough Congressional Representatives on specific committees.
Letter writing to our elected state and federal officials have had little to no effect. Questions abound and answers are scarce. Steve Morrow, an Admiral's Cove resident recently posted the following on NextDoor:
"Accident Potential Zones, OLF, Property Values - I spoke with Island County Planning Director Hiller West today about my concerns and was directed to an excellent County website page:
I recommend that you read this site in detail. It really gives a good view of the process from EIS through Navy AICUZ study to zoning/land use changes.
Under Navy recommendations housing would not be allowed in APZ-1 and only low density housing in APZ-2. The County page indicates that existing housing would be grandfathered and not in jeopardy.
While all that I read on the County site sounds reasonable, I don't understand why other jurisdictions have taken actions with significant negative effect on property values if this is the whole picture. For example, Airway Heights (near Spokane and Fairchild AFB) downzoned neighborhoods and discovered later that this made mortgages and home loans difficult, impeded housing sales, and negatively impacted property values. Also, near NAS Oceana, neighborhoods were condemned and houses sit unoccupied today while other parts of the jurisdiction have had increased property taxes to compensate for the loss of tax base in the condemned areas.
Why would jurisdictions take such devastating actions when Island County's approach seems so innocuous? Is there DoD pressure to clear the areas? Is there legal liability to the jurisdiction if it doesn't (as the Navy AICUZ document says) use "its police power to protect the public health, safety and welfare." Something doesn't add up and our property values in Admirals Cove and much of Central Whidbey hang in the balance. I'm not sure where to go to dig further. Constructive ideas, anyone?
- Steve Morrow, Admirals Cove Resident