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Grant to fund land use study around Selfridge Air National Guard Base

By: Julie Snyder | C&G Newspapers | Published July 12, 2019


MACOMB COUNTY — A recently received federal grant will give Macomb County officials the ability to fund a study to determine future land use opportunities around Selfridge Air National Guard Base — opportunities that would benefit both the base and its neighboring communities.

The $266,288 grant will be used for a new sustainability study, also known as a joint land use study, or JLUS. Provided by the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment, the funding will allow the county to engage the base and local municipalities in developing guidelines for compatible future land uses, according to Vicky Rad, director of Macomb County Planning and Economic Development.

“The Selfridge sustainability study is an essential tool for ensuring both public and private economic investment in our region,” said Rad. “Selfridge is a critical economic asset employing thousands of people and contributing more than $850 million to local economies. At the same time, the communities surrounding the base are growing and making plans for the future. So it is imperative that we all work together to understand what developments are compatible, what developments are incompatible, and what developments would ensure the public’s health, safety and welfare.”

Communities identified for the study fall within a region where either Selfridge operates or where the base has airspace or training areas. Those communities include Clinton Township, Chesterfield Township, Fraser, Macomb Township, Mount Clemens, New Baltimore, Roseville, St. Clair Shores and Harrison Township, where the base is located.

Harrison Township Supervisor Ken Verkest said the term “joint use” is not very popular; however, the study has a different goal in mind.

“It’s important to understand this is not a study to establish or look at joint use — it’s a study performed by the federal government on all military bases on a recurring basis,” Verkest said. “The goal is to identify ways the base and the surrounding communities can work together on efficiencies, as well as ways to protect the communities along with the mission of the base.”

For example, Verkest said, during a similar study done a few years prior, it was learned that the base can struggle with obtaining enough rock salt to treat its runways and roads during the winter, while the county is able to stockpile rock salt. Although it’s not unlimited, Macomb County does get it at a fraction of the cost, while the base and the federal government do not. It was through this analysis that an agreement was made that Selfridge would pay a small amount to the county to purchase extra salt for a cost savings to the base.

Other examples of such a study could be to look at how to make the Selfridge Military Air Museum more accessible to the public simply by moving the main entrance gate on Hall Road a short distance, or the possibility of reopening the former campground at the base and turning it into a state campground.

“Ultimately, our goal is to create a plan for the region that makes sense,” said Rad. “We know from previous JLUS studies completed across the country that the outcomes of this work can be very beneficial. It helps everyone get on the same page and helps our community move forward.”

Rad said that as the study sponsor, Macomb County will establish a policy committee with appropriate community and state representation and working groups that feature the county planning offices, local planning staff, members from appropriate governmental agencies, and other identified local organizations with relevant technical expertise such as utility companies, housing associations, emergency services, watershed associations and economic development organizations.

The group will be responsible for reviewing all data collected, evaluating issues, identifying alternatives and developing recommendations for consideration. Together with the policy committee, they will produce a final report in 16-18 months that will serve as a non-binding guide for future planning and development for both the communities and Selfridge.