2005 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 30 Oct 2005 08:37:06 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Property rights and encroachment
Some of the Pentagon officials who proposed or supported the Readiness
and Range Preservation Initiative ("Exemptions" legislation) believe
that national security trumps all other considerations, and many elected
officials are willing to let the Pentagon train as it pleases to ensure
that their bases and ranges are not closed.

But recent events suggest that even in conservative communities
readiness is just one of many important objectives that must be taken
into account when working to build sustainability at and around military facilities.

The military is facing serious local political challenges, even in
conservative "red states," in areas dependent upon Defense Department
expenditures. Residents and businesses in Jacksonville, Florida didn't
want to relocate to make it possible to re-open Cecil Field. Virginia
Beach is poised to reject a Base Closure Commission demand that it
condemn homes too close to the Oceana Naval Air Station. Neighbors of
Fort Hood, Texas reportedly challenged an Army plan to use conservation
easements to create buffer zones around training areas. And in
Tennessee, a developer - and former mayor of Clarksville - told the
Leaf-Chronicle newspaper, "I thank Fort Campbell for all that they do.
However, citizens have rights. No one, including the government, should
impose restrictions on someone's own property. And if there are any
overlays required, resulting in a decrease of property values for the
private land owner, property owners deserve to be compensated for those

The presumably conservative (on average) residents of these area may
believe in national security, but they also believe in property rights.
They are unlikely to give up their property or their ability to control
the use of their land just because the military says it's necessary.

I draw two lessons from  such situations:

1. Potential conflicts among readiness, property rights, and
environmental protection must be addressed in advance. It's easier to
move a subdivision before it's built. And it's easier to reject a
subdivision if local general planning documents make it clear that an
area is unsuitable for (certain types) development.

2. To the residents of communities that host or neighbor military
facilities, no single objective is pre-eminent. Resolution requires the
balancing of conflicting objectives, preferably through the
give-and-take of negotiations, not the pursuit of readiness at all
costs. And clearly, the military can't win concessions by talking only
to those people that want to concede. They have to talk to those who are
most resistant.

After meeting 300 residents in nearby Gatesville, Fort Hood deputy
commander Maj. Gen. James E. Simmons (as reported in the Killeen Daily
Herald) said "We have probably not done a very good job in communicating
with the stakeholders." I hope he meant listening as well as explaining.

Lenny Siegel

Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918
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