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Airport commission moves ahead with Travis study

By
From page A1 | May 09, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — Solano County’s study of compatible land uses around Travis Air Force Base is about to take off, with a completion date possible in mid-2015.

The goal: To make certain more mammoth wind turbines, solar farms and other projects don’t get built in places and in numbers that would hinder the base’s flights.

Representatives from Environmental Science Associates appeared before the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission on Thursday. The consulting firm will spend the next year putting a plan together.

A draft plan and environmental work could be released for public comment in April 2015. The county Airport Land Use Commission could wrap the work up in June 2015 by updating the Travis Air Force Base Comprehensive Airport Land Use Plan.

Phil Wade of Environmental Science Associates answered questions from commissioners about the Travis Plan update.

Commissioner John Potter noted one goal is to maintain land uses compatible with the Travis Air Force Base maximum mission. He noted the difficulty in determining just what this maximum mission might be.

“There might be something that comes completely out of the woodwork we never expected, like the assault landing strip,” he said. “Or drones.”

Wade said “maximum mission” can mean what is reasonably foreseeable to occur at the base.

Solano County Principal Planner Jim Leland said the updated Travis Land Use Plan will try to approximate the maximum capacity for the base. It will then make a noise footprint that corresponds.

The existing, 2002 Travis Land Use Plan took a similar approach. Among other things, it looked at a “maximum mission” doubling base flight operations and then calculated where noise from the planes would be too great for residential developments and other types of developments.

Three advisory groups will work with Environmental Science Associates. One is a technical advisory group with planning officials from the county and its cities, as well as Travis officials.

Another is a policy committee that will use as a starting point an existing group called the City County Coordinating Council. It consists of the county Board of Supervisors and mayors from the seven local cities.

A third advisory committee will focus on renewable energy and will include renewable energy professionals and Travis officials.

Solano County has approved spending $475,000 on the update.

The county also wants to do a “joint land use” study with the Department of Defense that would also look at compatible land uses around Travis. Leland said the county could learn by July if the Department of Defense will pay for the $300,000 effort.

If so, the joint land use study would coordinate on aviation-related issues with the county Airport Land Use Commission’s Travis Land Use Plan update. But, Leland said, it would go further and also look at issues that are not related to aviation, such as security around the base and how security is affected by development.

That joint land use study would result in recommended policies to be adopted by city councils and the Board of Supervisors, Leland said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or beberling@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
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