The Flint Hills Regional Council took another step forward Wednesday in its attempt to update the Fort Riley Joint Land Use Study (JLUS), which was last completed in 2005.
The study — which is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment — is being conducted to determine how changes at Fort Riley and the surrounding communities have created potential land-use conflict since the 2005 study. Upon completion, area communities will be able to ensure that all future growth is compatible.
For the first time, members of the Flint Hills Regional Council (FRHC) were split into two groups, with meetings being held Wednesday in both Manhattan and Junction City. The Manhattan meeting was the study’s technical advisory committee, while the Junction City meeting was composed of members of the study’s policy committee. The JLUS Technical Advisory Committee is charged with facilitating communication and coordination among local planning jurisdictions and administrators. The Policy Committee, which is comprised of elected officials and representatives of area cities and counties as well as the Fort Riley Garrison Command and the Governor’s Military Council, will be guiding the process.
Junction City Commissioner Jim Sands, a member of the policy committee, highlighted the importance of the study by noting that in recent years, members of Fort Riley’s leadership have reached out to the National Guard in neighboring states in person to highlight the quality training facilities offered by the base.
“That’s how we ended up with a larger influx of troops at Fort Riley this year,” he said. “There was so many more reserve troops here than there’s ever been before.”
With more troops and more training comes more noise. Vibrations and sounds of amplified weapons and aircrafts could concern locals, and with the recent population growth in the area, it becomes more and more of a concern.
“When you (live near) a military base and you hear a boom, (it’s) second nature,” Sands said. “But if you’re not from a military base and you hear these explosions, you think, ‘what was that?’ So how does what’s going on at Fort Riley affect what’s going on in the community?”
Stantec — the company selected by the FHRC to conduct the study — led each of the two meetings. Stantec Planning Management Associate Raymond Greer presented a slideshow to outline each committees role in the study and the schedule for the coming months, with completion of the study set for June 2017. Between now and then, there will be three public workshops which will allow members of local communities to provide input to ensure that the plan is well-rounded.
Members of the public interested in keeping up to date with the project may do so at the project’s website, http://fortrileyjlus.com, or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/fortrileyjlus. Each of these sites will be updated with project details and meeting dates as more information comes available.
Sands noted that community involvement is a vital piece of the study which will ultimately determine the future compatibility of the Flint Hills Region.
“This Joint Land Use Study, it’ll bring our communities together,” he said. “It’s making us all partners.”