By A.C. Hall
Meeting for the final time in 2012, the Regional Coordination Committee (RCC) made up of municipalities around the base had several things to discuss this past Monday. Gathering at the Sheriff’s North Patrol building in Lake Worth, the RCC first unanimously approved their legislature policy position.
The committee’s legislative position is represented by a list that shows the RCC supporting legislation that promotes compatible growth that lessens the impact on military installations and enhanced options for cities and counties to manage growth.
Their position also addresses support for tools that can be used at the local level to promote compatible growth around military installations. Some possible tools mentioned in the document include protecting the voluntary participation of coordination efforts by governmental entities surrounding military installations and enhancing communication efforts for new potential residents that may be affected by military operations.
One part of this document that was mentioned was its call for organizations like the RCC to remain voluntary collaborations of local entities “rather than top-down mandated structures.”
Touching upon a specific legislative issue, Captain Robert Bennett brought up wind turbines. Bennett is the commanding officer of NASJRB, and he informed the RCC that a legislative committee is working on legislation related to wind turbines.
The effect of wind turbines on radar is something that has been discussed at length at RCC meetings, as it’s become a serious national issue in areas where the turbines are located. Some military installations have tried to keep wind farms from being built near them, but in some cases have been pressured by local or state government to allow their construction. Bennett said work is underway on new technologies or tweaks that can be made to wind turbines to fix the issue.
“It’s better than it was, we’re headed in the right direction,” Bennett said.
He went on to add that having legislative help will be a great step towards managing this issue.
Later in the meeting, Bennett spoke about several more issues as he shared his scheduled update. He touched upon the Casino Beach project in Lake Worth, as plans for the construction have shown an outdoor amphitheater that falls within some of the flight zones leading out from the base.
The Casino Beach project is set to open in July of 2014, with construction starting May of 2013. According to Bennett, he’s trying to arrange a field trip out to the area where those involved with it can hear what it sounds like when planes fly over. This is a part of his efforts to work with Lake Worth about the location of the amphitheater.
“This is the time to discuss it, this is the time to work out the details,” Bennett said.
Another thing mentioned was the issue of bird strikes. There were eleven bird strikes against aircraft in the latest quarter, and estimates on a recent Lockheed bird strike have damage from the impact up in the millions.
The RCC also set up a nominating committee as they prepare for officer elections early next year. Current committee chair Paul Paine will be stepping aside, as the bylaws set up a two consecutive term limit for the officers of the group. Paine said he feels the rotation of officers is important, but did have some thoughts on the incoming chair person.
“I think it’s a critical time,” Paine said. “We need to make sure our next chair continues the momentum.”
Before the meeting adjourned, there was a discussion about the accomplishments of the RCC over the past year. Several people who spoke expressed their belief that the RCC is helping a lot. Paine touched upon how the RCC is setting the standard for cooperation between municipalities and bases.
“We’re going to be a model for the nation,” Paine said.