from staff reports
The Meridian Star
Open houses are scheduled to show residents the Noise and Accident Potential Zones around McCain Field at NAS Meridian and Joe Williams Field in Kemper County so that they can take steps to protect themselves, base officials announced.
Homes are being built under the routes Navy jets use in Lauderdale and Kemper counties to get to and from runways, creating safety and noise issues that will be addressed in the open houses.
Analysis of airport mishaps over the years shows that crashes occur most frequently on or near the runway and decrease proportionately as distances away from the runway lengthen.
Accident Potential Zones (APZs) is the term used to describe where future crashes are more likely to occur. NAS Meridian does not own all of the land in Accident Potential Zones and only authorities in Lauderdale and Kemper counties can regulate development in those area.
A study to identify high noise areas around the airfields was recently completed. The Air Installation Compatible Use Zones (AICUZ) study also shows any encroachment issues.
In 1962, a total of 179 homes surrounded McCain and Joe Williams Fields; now there are 495 homes in that same area, according to a base press release. Cell phones did not exist until recently and today cell towers surround NAS on every side.
"Homes and towers are two forms of encroachment that can impair the mission of NAS Meridian," the press release states.
According to a May 2, 2011 Department of Defense memo, it is DoD police to:
• Promote the health, safety, and welfare of persons in the vicinity of and on air installations by minimizing aircraft noise and safety impacts without degrading flight safety and mission requirements.
• Promote long-term compatible land use on and in the vicinity of air installations by encouraging state and local governments to adopt enabling legislation and compatible land use regulations into their land use planning and control processes and by partnering with communities and other eligible entities to protect land through restrictive use and conservation easements.
• Limit acquisition of real property interests to the minimum necessary to ensure the operational integrity of the air installation.
The open houses are "come and go as you please," the press release states. Attendees may pause at the five AICUZ poster stations and visit with officers, experts, other attendees, or state and local elected officials.
"Please make plans to attend and learn how you, community officials, and NAS Meridian can help protect the health, safety and welfare of neighbors and the flight training mission at NAS Meridian," the press release states.
The open houses are scheduled for Monday, Oct. 28, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the gymnasium at Northeast Middle School and for Tuesday, Oct. 29, from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Senior Citizens Center in DeKalb.