NAS Land Study Proposed

Government and civic leaders from Lauderdale County and Kemper County are exploring an option which some say could benefit both Naval Air Station Meridian and the community at large.

Project manager, Michael Wilson from the Department of Defense met with the group Friday morning to explain the basics about a Joint Land Use Study.

"It's definitely a win-win situation," says Wilson. "It helps to support the operational capacity of the base, and continues to support the growth that occurs outside the fence line."

Some of the areas that could be addressed in such a study include noise concerns and zoning.

If the green light is given on this study, anywhere from a one-to-three mile radius around both Naval Air Station Meridian, and the naval landing field in Kemper County could be involved in that study. Also, if the study is done, local officials say its scope could be broadened even more to address concerns about things such as cell phone towers.

"The Department of Defense wants to know that we take care of their base here, and we do everything that we can to support that base, and everything that we can to make that base more efficient," says Lamar McDonald, who is chairman of the Meridian Military Team.

"This community has really stood together over the years to support the base, and it's important to do that now and into the future," says Jim Copeland, who is the Community Planning Liason Officer for NAS Meridian.

Some supporters of the study agree, especially with looming concerns about future base realignment and closure talks.

"Our program is not intended for BRAC proofing so to speak," says Wilson. "However, it does position a base to be able to once again, be able to continue to carry out the mission of the base in general."

In mid-August local leaders and other interested members of the community from both Lauderdale County and Kemper County will meet together to decide whether or not to take part in the study. An exact date for that has not yet been set.

In general, a Joint Land Use Study cost between $200,000 and $300,000 to conduct; 90% of that is paid by the federal government. Local entities pay the remaining 10% in cash or with staffing time. It usually takes anywhere from one year to 18 months to complete one of these studies.