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Big step protects Travis integrity

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From page A8 | June 15, 2014 |

The Solano County Board of Supervisors this week took a big step to protect the integrity of airspace near the new multimillion-dollar assault landing zone at Travis Air Force Base.

We praise them for doing so.

Training at the assault landing zone sees C-17s flying at around 500 feet as they practice maneuvers pilots and crews must master to operate in areas such as Afghanistan. The Federal Aviation Administration restricts planes from flying at altitudes of 500 feet if there are buildings or other obstructions present that are 200-feet in height or taller.

The board on Tuesday approved changes to the General Plan to ensure that no structure taller than 200 feet can be built in a large area east of the base. The vote ended months of preliminary work that aimed to protect the airspace – and agriculture – near Travis.

That work saw the Board of Supervisors impose a 45-day moratorium last fall on such structures in the affected area, the extension of the moratorium in December for another 10 months, work by the county’s Airport Land Use Commission to create what’s called an “assault landing zone training area overlay zone,” and action by the county Planning Commission that set the stage for Tuesday’s board vote.

There was no serious opposition to the proposal. Potential development of wind and solar projects in the area, however, spurred county officials to action. History tells us that if the General Plan wasn’t changed, there would likely be future green-energy projects that could jeopardize the flight maneuvers associated with the assault landing zone.

Most of the affected area – about 180 square miles – is farmland or wetlands. The base training area for the most part is north of Highway 12, though it extends south of the highway in part of rural Suisun Marsh near Suisun City. It extends east to near Rio Vista and north to near Midway Road at the northernmost point.

The Montezuma Hills area is outside the base training area. These hills are home to hundreds of wind turbines that measure about 400 feet tall from the ground to the top of an upturned blade. The training area height limitation blocks future proposals to build more of these electricity-generating behemoths north of Highway 12.

It’s said the wheels of government grind slowly. In this case, the wheels moved pretty quickly to forestall potential projects that could jeopardize a critical part of the mission at Travis. Well done by all involved to make sure we protect the area’s most important asset.

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