DCCA & the JBLM North Clear Zone

DCCA & the JBLM North Clear Zone

Defense Community Compatibility Account (DCCA)

The 2019 Legislature established the DCCA – a grant program to help civilian communities near military installations address compatibility challenges. SSMCP requests the Legislature fund the Commerce recommended list to include $900,000 for the McChord Airfield North Clear Zone.

SSMCP also requests the Legislature amend the statute to improve the program’s long term success. These changes will improve the likelihood that the DCCA grant program will be funded through the biennial capital budget on a recurring basis.

The North Clear Zone (NCZ) is a federally-designated 3,000-by[1]3,000-foot safety area adjacent to the north end of the McChord Field runway. It is partly within Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) and partly within the City of Lakewood. The part in Lakewood includes many light industrial business uses on privately-held properties. Based on fed[1]eral guidelines, these uses pose public and flight safety risks and are incompatible with runway operations. Some of these uses are currently allowed under Lakewood’s zoning code, and some are nonconforming uses. The businesses are valued community members and contribute to Lakewood’s economy.

A Clear Zone is a 3,000’ by 3,000’ box at the end of a runway.  Historically 28% of all air accidents occur in clear zones. Resolution the Northern Clear Zone encroachments is the highest priority identified in the 2015 JBLM Joint Land Use Study. The North Clear Zone Project will:

·      Ensure public and air safety

·      Preserve JBLM “Mission Assurance”

·      Maintain full airfield operational capacity and

·      Implement the 2015 JBLM Joint Land Use Study

·      Bring use of the NCZ into Federal Aviation
Administration and Department of Defense regulatory compliance

 In September 2019, the City of Lakewood entered into a
Cooperative Agreement (CA) with the U.S. Army Contracting Command, Mission and
Installation Contracting Command (MICC).  The CA commits Army
Environmental Command and the City of Lakewood to a contract to clear the North
Clear Zone (NCZ) of incompatible land uses over a period of up to 50
years.  The Air Force provides the majority of the funds, the Army manages
the real estate transactions. Up to $80M is available for property acquisitions
with a required partner cost share of 20%.

The longer these acquisitions take to execute, the more it
will cost.  Because of appreciation and inflation, the Tactical Tailor
property, purchased in January 2022 cost $7.8M, up over 35% from its appraised
value of $4.9M in the 2017 Real Estate Planning Report. 

 The 2022 NDAA noted the following:

“The committee is concerned that Army processes for
assessing and approving purchases in the clear zone may not be nimble enough to
take advantage of freely negotiated sales opportunities or purchase incentives
that could lead to acceptable disposition of property within the clear zone.
The committee encourages the Army to use all available authorities to expedite
the acquisition of lands within this zone.”

 Currently, CA policies and procedures are set forth by the
Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program.  ACUB policy dictates that
federal funds can only be committed to acquisitions with “willing sellers”.
While Lakewood’s planning priority for acquisitions focuses on properties from
the center line of the runway out, acquisitions are forced to adhere to the
“willing seller” clause regardless of where the property is located.  In
other words, the city can only attempt to buy properties as they made available
by “willing sellers”.

encroachment is a shared responsibility between Federal, State, and
local authorities

strategy requires a team of partners working together to align their
authorities and resources

strategy must continue to accept risk while employing incremental
over time.

 The City of Lakewood and SSMCP have entered into a Cooperative Agreement (CA) with the US Army.  This Cooperative Agreement (CA) is executed under authority of 10 U.S.C. § 2684a and 16 U.S.C. § 670c- l. There is a projected Army expenditure of up to $80M to complete this NCZ project.  This CA is a cost-share agreement (80% federal / 20% local spilt) with a requirement that can include cash, land owner donations, and in-kind services. Notwithstanding the minimum, this is a best efforts agreement wherein the recipient will leverage Army funds as well as other sources of funds identified by the recipient, including State and Federal agencies, to achieve the overall funding goal. Currently, the 2020/21 focus is on the acquisition of the Tactical Tailor property.

The SSMCP and partners from the State of Washington, Pierce County, City of Lakewood, JBLM and the Department of Defense have completed work on the North Clear Zone Action and Implementation Plan (AIP). In April 2017 the City of Lakewood adopted Resolution No. 2017-09, authorizing the City to sign and execute a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for implementation of the AIP. In May 2017, the MOA was signed by all AIP partners. Now that the AIP is completed and the MOA is signed, the SSMCP and partners are transitioning to implementation of the AIP.

JBLM North Clear Zone Map

JBLM North Clear Zone Map

The AIP sets forth a phased strategy consisting of six actions and corresponding implementation steps designed to be carried out over the next 10-20 years to accomplish project objectives, while balancing benefits and costs among stakeholders. All of the actions are anticipated to begin in the short term (0-5 years).

AIP Actions

  1. Changes to City of Lakewood Code and Administrative Processes
  2. Amortization Study
  3. Voluntary Property Acquisitions and Business Relocation
  4. Habitat Restoration and Preservation
  5. Woodbrook Land Exchange
  6. AIP Implementation Team

Please see the NCZ project brochure below for additional information on the AIP actions and implementation phases.  

About the Project

A Clear Zone is a federally-designated, 3,000-by-3,000-foot safety area adjacent to the end of a runway. This area has the highest statistical possibility of aircraft accidents. Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defense guidelines call for Clear Zones to be undeveloped and free of people and flight obstructions. This protects the public’s safety and the military’s ability to carry out its missions.

The North Clear Zone is located at the north end of the McChord Field runway. It is partly within JBLM and partly within the City of Lakewood. The part in Lakewood includes many buildings and business on privately-held properties. Based on federal safety guidelines, these uses are incompatible with runway operations and pose public and flight safety risks. At the same time, existing businesses operating in the North Clear Zone are an important part of the local, regional and State economy.

SSMCP recently completed the JBLM Joint Land Use Study (JLUS). One of the highest priority recommendations that came out of JLUS was to develop solutions for the North Clear Zone.

“The potential for accidents is so high [in the Clear Zone] that the land use restrictions necessary to ensure compatibility would prohibit reasonable economic use of the land. Therefore, it is DOD and USAF policy to own the land within the Clear Zone, or control the land through restrictive use easements.” — Air Force Instruction (AFI)32-7063, 18 DEC 2015, para. 3-9, p 24

Project Objectives

  • Ensure public and air safety
  • Bring use of the North Clear Zone into Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defense regulatory compliance
  • Preserve JBLM “Mission Assurance”
  • Implement the 2015 JBLM Joint Land Use Study
  • Maintain full airfield operational capacity and capability

The North Clear Zone project is being conducted in four phases Phases 1-3 have been completed. They included 1) project startup, which began in summer 2017, 2) strategy analysis and cost estimates for voluntary property acquisition and business relocation, which were conducted between summer and winter 2016, and 3) development of the North Clear Zone Action Plan & Implementation Program and Memorandum of Agreement, which were finalized and adopted in spring 2017 following open houses with property owners and a Lakewood City Council study session and public comment period. The final phase, implementation, is currently underway and is anticipated to continue for the next 10-20 years. Most implementation actions will be led by project partners such as the City of Lakewood, Pierce County and JBLM. SSMCP will continue to be actively engaged, for instance by supporting formation and regular meetings of the AIP Implementation Task Force. 

Project Files:

Previous Support Military & Civilian Compatible Land Use

Connect With Us

South Sound Military & Communities Partnership - SSMCP

Bill Adamson
Program Director
(253) 983-7772 • badamson@cityoflakewood.us

Maria Tobin
Program Coordinator
(253) 983-7804 • mtobin@cityoflakewood.us

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