Las Vegas Sun

August 18, 2019

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Clark County, other stakeholders seek public input in Nellis land-use study

Nellis

Adriana Zehbrauskas / The New York Times

Personnel are shown at Nellis Air Force Base on May 21, 2019.

Clark County, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and other municipalities are partnering with the Nellis Air Force Base Complex to study and promote mutually beneficial planning in the areas surrounding the complex for the first time.

Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment, the joint land-use study aims to identify “compatibility issues” between civilians and military operations and propose solutions to those issues, according to a factsheet for the joint land-use study. The scope of the study includes Nellis Air Force Base, Creech Air Force Base, and the Nevada Test and Training Range, which are located in Clark County, Nye County and Lincoln County.

The study will assess 25 compatibility factors, including communication between the military and jurisdictions, air quality, light and glare, housing for civilians and military personnel, vibration, and climate change impacts on military operations and surrounding communities. It will focus on the long-term future of Nellis in anticipation of continued growth at the base, said Clark County Commission Chairperson Marilyn Kirkpatrick.

“There’s no secret that Nellis is growing. There’s no secret that their capabilities and the needs of the many servicemen and women are growing, so that’s really what this is,” Kirkpatrick said.

Members of the public are invited to participate in workshops and give feedback on the study starting next week. Two workshops will take place in Clark County: 5 p.m. July 24 at the Indian Springs Civic Center in Indian Springs, and 4 p.m. July 25 at the Cora Coleman Senior Center in Las Vegas.

One element of the study will be to assess the infrastructure needs of Southern Nevada’s military operations and determine how counties and municipalities could help meet those needs, Kirkpatrick said. For example, the Air Force faces a shortage of approximately 3,000 dormitories for the 30,000 airmen and airwomen who live in Clark County, primarily in northwest Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, she said.

“Those are things we’re looking at – because if we can ensure that there’s plenty of base housing, that frees up other housing,” she said.

The study will also look at ongoing concerns from members of the public. One of the most frequently raised concerns, Kirkpatrick said, is about Nellis’ annual Red Flag exercises, which are currently underway through Aug. 2. Kirkpatrick hopes the study could clear up confusion about the exercises, which help personnel prepare for combat scenarios.

North Las Vegas Chief of Staff Delen Goldberg said the study could be crucial given the region’s continued growth.

“Certainly North Las Vegas is growing at a very rapid pace,” Goldberg said. “Just like we’re doing internally, we want to be smart about the growth, and strategic.”

In addition to Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Clark County, stakeholders involved in the study include Lincoln County, Nye County, military operations in Southern Nevada and various federal and state agencies. Some of these stakeholders will serve on a policy committee or a technical working group, both of which will further guide the study.

The study comes at a time when the U.S. Air Force seeks to expand the Nevada Test and Training Range into the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, a proposal that faces criticism from conservationists, Native Americans and members of the Nevada Assembly. The proposal, which requires approval from Congress, would add 468 square miles of public land to the bombing training range.

The joint land-use study, however, won’t focus specifically on that issue, Kirkpatrick said.

“This whole process is less about fixing existing problems and more about visioning for the future,” Goldberg emphasized.

Members of the public who cannot attend next week’s meetings are encouraged to send comments or questions to Mario Bermudez, planning manager for Clark County, at 702-455-5013 or [email protected].