Pima County votes for added D-M protections - Tucson News Now

Pima County votes for added D-M protections

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

By a unanimous vote, Pima County passed an agreement to work with the United States Air Force and Davis-Monthan Air Base to reduce encroachment which could imperil the base.

Encroachment is caused when high-density development is built in areas that are contrary to the base mission, which at present is the A-10.

Under the agreement, the Air Force will provide $1.5 million to buy property or provide easements to property owners who are located within the takeoff and landing zones at D-M.

Allowing those owners to build high-density development could jeopardize safety, present noise issues because of fly-overs or cause transportation problems for D-M.

Certain developments will not be allowed, like "hospitals, schools, hotels or high density manufacturing," said John Moffatt, the Economic Development Director for Pima County. 

But he adds, "You can have warehousing and things like that."

The advantage to the county is that the property is kept on the tax rolls, but the disadvantage to the property owner is they won't be able to develop the highest and best use.

The money from the Air Force and easements from the county will "compensate them for that loss," Moffatt said.

Pima County has already spent $10 million purchasing property, money which was approved in a 2004 bond election. The county can use those to offset the required matching fund.

The Air Force may also receive funding for four more years, meaning more property may be protected.

It's thought the Air Force is preparing D-M for its next mission, which may include the controversial F-35, the next generation of Air Force fighter jets. 

However. with the F-35 comes the issue of noise, which has been the complaint of a Tucson group called Tucson Forward, which is battling the Air Force to keep the A-10. 

It appears the Air Force is confident enough that it's investing in D-M.

"I know they spend billions a year but they're kind of a tight organization," said Bryan Foulk, the President of the DM 50, an advocacy group for keeping the base open. "I don't see them putting money into something they think they're going to get rid of."

D-M is one of 89 bases and other installations that has received money, although for many it was for different purposes. Environmental clean-up, land preservation and to protect agricultural interests were among other reasons to provide the federal funds.

Encroachment, however, appears to be a top priority for the Air Force which is why the Pima County agreement is important and meaningful to the local economy. 

D-M is said to be a $1.5 billion economic engine in Tucson, the third biggest in Pima County. 

"I wouldn't want to think what would happen to Tucson if the base closes," Foulk said. "Economically we'd be devastated."

Tucson is competing against other communities and states for attention, which is why the agreement garnered unanimous support among the board.

United States Air Force Cooperative Agreement by Tucson News Now on Scribd

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