Base, Builders Make Concessions For Housing Project
In a preemptive
measure to avoid a future NIMBY battle, Air Force officials
laid down the facts for developers planning to build a 13,000-acre
residential development along the south edge of Kirtland Air Force
Base in Albuquerque, NM: the base operates helicopters and F-16s,
and occasionally sets off bombs. They all make noise... and really,
they were there first.
Officials made their case at a city council meeting
involving developers planning the Mesa del Sol master-planned
residential community. The development is expected to bring as many
as 100,000 residents to the southwestern edge of a massive complex
that is also home to the Albuquerque International Sunport.
Fact is, the base was there first (since 1941)... but that's not
to say the base isn't willing to make some concessions in the
interest of keeping the peace, however.
The Albuquerque Tribune reports Kirtland agreed to cease
training for cargo drops and night-vision flights, as they need to
be conducted at less than 500 ft AGL. Cool for spotters, perhaps...
but probably less than ideal for a family with a newborn.
The base has found other locations for those operations,
according to Col. Terrence A. Feehan, installation commander at
But the base will likely need noise easements for helicopter
training and ordnance testing within the bases' borders -- and that
will likely be a nuisance for future residents at Mesa del Sol.
Officials also plan to ask developers to use light-control
devices on the neighborhood's street lights, to prevent light
pollution from interfering with the facility's Starfire Optical
Range. The range was placed at Kirtland's southeast corner
specifically to avoid such lighting, and base officials told the
council relocating it to an even darker area could cost upwards of
Feehan stressed to the council, however, that he supports the
development -- and ForestCity Covington, developer of Mesa del Sol,
supports the base's position and requests.
"We've reached a
compromise that's best for both of us," said company COO Mike
Now that the potentially explosive NIMBY situation has been
diffused, base officials and developers now only have to worry
about... another potentially explosive situation: the possibility
of construction crews finding unexploded WWII-era ordnance in the
That's still a less volatile scenario than Witham Field.