Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

May 21, 2015 at 6:48am

No land swap

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The hope that the city of Lakewood and Joint Base Lewis-McChord could affect a land swap has fallen through.

An effort to relocate businesses in McChord Field's "impact area," the land most adjacent to the runway, to different property that the Joint Base would offer up, won't move forward as hoped.

Development in the impact zone could be considered a demerit against McChord Field during decisions to close military bases because development in that area is considered dangerous.  A military plane crash is most likely to happen in this area of the landing approach.  Base supporters would like to see those businesses moved so McChord remains as viable as possible.  A swap for land made sense to Lakewood city officials.

Last week, JBLM Commander Col. Charles Hodges informed city officials that the installation was not supportive of the land swap in the North Clear Zone (NCZ) to include language stipulating as much in the upcoming Joint Land Use Study, or JLUS.

There are a couple of reasons for JBLM's objection.

First, the base is working with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) on what portion of the land in question is needed for the possible future expansion of I-5 to include the footprint of a new interchange at North Thorne Lane.

The second reason centers on the potential of relocating JBLM's logistics gate to the land in question as outlined in the base's master facility plan.

Col. Hodges has mentioned that Lakewood should continue to work with JBLM to have the Department of Defense allocate the money necessary to acquire the needed parcels that comprise the North Clear Zone.

"Discussions with JBLM are still open," Lakewood City Manager John Caulfield said.

McChord is not the only base affected by development close to the base.  At Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento, for example, developmental plans to put large wind turbines near the runway threatens that base's long-term usefulness.

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