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Joint Land Use Study underway at Sill

An understandably puzzled woman attending the first of three public workshops on the Fort Sill Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) wondered, "Was this something we asked for?"

Not quite. Steve Kelly, community and economic development planner for the Association of South Central Oklahoma Governments (ASCOG) said this JLUS was several years in the making.

ASCOG Executive Director Ron Ward said this is one of many programs that the Department of Defense's Office of Economic Adjustment offers. That office called ASCOG in February 2016 to see if the substate planning district would be interested in being the host agency for a JLUS on Fort Sill and its neighbors. The Office of Economic Adjustment is paying most of the cost, but 10 percent has to come from ASCOG, the City of Lawton and in-kind services from other stakeholders taking part in the study.

Celeste Werner of Matrix Design Group, Phoenix, Ariz., is the project manager for the Fort Sill study, and she and other team members have done over 40 such studies all across the U.S. The JLUS program has been around since 1985. Probably 140 studies have been completed already, and some of the early ones are already being updated as military installations take on new missions.

"We have a lot of experience doing just this," she said, noting that Matrix has worked with Army, National Guard, Air Force, Navy, joint forces and Reserves. The company brings with it best practices, lessons learned from other installations and technical expertise in environmental issues, engineering and transportation, to name a few.

See Sill, 2A

"This is not a military project. This is not a study that is being driven by Fort Sill. This is a community-based study," Werner said.

The point of the JLUS is to achieve three thrings: a "good neighbor" relationship so that at the end of the project the partners find a set of strategies that balance economic development and a quality of life for each of those communities; second, to ensure the military mission of readiness lives on thus maintaining the jobs that are currently here, and finally, the assurance of property rights.

What a JLUS is not, said Werner, is either a regulatory document or an enforcement action.

"It's an opportunity to bring all the players together to create a document that has all the information. It is truly a set of recommendations tailored to each individual jurisdiction," she said.

Mike Hrapla, deputy project manager on this study, said to "think in terms of sharing information so communities can make informed decisions."

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