Your comments are needed on an implementation plan for military land use in Washington. Comments are due August 1, 2017 – so there is not much time.
The WA State Department of Commerce, directed by the WA State Legislature, commissioned a study on ways to make it easier for the military to operate in Washington State, by making sure that land use in the state is compatible with military operations. That implementation plan for the study is found here.
In this implementation plan, there is no identified opportunity for the public to be involved in the process, outside this comment period. The plan itself outlines the best way for military-friendly decisions to be made, engaging military-oriented businesses and their associated lobbying groups (Washington Military Alliance) to shepherd land use decisions in their favor.
Sadly, the plan was not circulated to the general public, but to an official distribution list. Coupeville Community Allies is thankful the email was shared with us. We are not sure how the public would have known of this study or plan otherwise.
We at CCA believe in a balance of community and military. Land use decisions must include and consider the citizens of Washington first, as the public can be heavily impacted by military operations.
Our letter to the Department of Commerce is below. Please feel free to use our comments as a guide.
We encourage you to read the implementation plan and make comments of your own to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We don’t recommend you use the survey that is linked – as it is weighted to comments pre-selected by the study authors, none of which include citizen issues.
Please also cc: our State Legislators,
Thank you for commenting. If you want to cc: us, please do, at email@example.com
July 25, 2017
We are members of Coupeville Community Allies, a citizen organization in Central Whidbey that is working to develop legislative, policy or legal solutions to mitigate the negative health, environmental and economic burdens related to the planned dramatic expansion of NASWI Navy Growler flight operations at Coupeville’s Outlying Field (OLF) and/or Ault Field in Oak Harbor.
A review of the draft plan raises several serious concerns for us as residents of a community deeply effected by the presence of the military in Washington state. Overall, our primary concern is the lack of opportunities for citizens living near military operations to participate or be represented in the decision making process effecting their communities.
More specifically our concerns include:
1. The draft states (p. 39 in 6.1.1) that the people of Washington state are the first target audience of the draft. The circulation of the draft to the citizens of community directly impacted by military operations has been very limited. We only became aware of the draft in mid July when it was shared with us by someone on the official distribution list. After the comment deadline this month, it is not clear that citizens beyond the limited and narrow list of stakeholders outlined in the draft will have any opportunities for input in the plan or implementation.
2. Military advisory bodies to be created (p. 14) do not include any community or civilian representation.
3. The plans states that the “base may have to adjust its procedures for the sake of civilian neighbors” if “ accidents and noise from aircraft… pose public safety hazards for communities” (p.11). The plan does not describe how the community is able to engage with the military regarding such concerns.
4. The plan’s Goal 3.2.”1 Goal: effective and timely stakeholder engagement” does not address community engagement (p.20) in any way beyond narrowly defined stakeholder participation.
5. The plan does not address the impact of the military operations on other economic issues including individual property values, impact on tourism and recreation. The plan is based on a narrowly defined business case that assumes the military’s economic impact on adjacent communities is uniformly positive.
Overall, the plan limits the definition of stakeholders to those directly involved in economic activities related to military operations in the state. There appears to be no place for citizens of communities impacted by operations to be involved in decision making related to land use planning. We urge you to consider meaningful opportunities for community members to participate in decisions effecting their lives and environment.
With concern -
Coupeville Community Allies