Military Installation Sustainability


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Although Department of Defense (DoD) facilities around the country are federally owned and operated, state legislatures can play an important role in sustaining them.

Military installations face changing missions as the Defense Department reorganizes its infrastructure to become more efficient and adjust to a changing national security environment. State and local governments appreciate the numerous benefits defense communities bring and therefore are often willing to share in the planning and investment needs to sustain them. As a military base and its surrounding community become more dependent upon one another for support during transitional periods (growth, realignment or closure), a durable partnership of open communication and cooperation is invaluable.

The intent of NCSL's Military Installation Sustainability Program is to inform state legislators and military personnel of policy options to benefit the collective. It seeks to highlight strategies for dealing with the unique challenges a defense community faces, including encroachment and joint land use, clean energy and environmental protection, and joint planning and cost-sharing for future mission changes.


Encroachment is the cumulative effect of uncontrolled urban development that impedes the military’s ability to carry out its testing and training missions on affected bases. The rapid pace of urban growth into rural areas around military installations and ranges presents two sets of encroachment problems. As residential and commercial development increases in areas near military bases, residents may be exposed to aircraft over-flights, dust and noise from military activities. In addition, important military training exercises may be compromised by the encroaching development. These potentially competing interests could result in incompatible use of land, air, water and other resources, but may be mitigated with state legislative intervention.

State/Military Encroachment Legislation—Policy Options

State legislatures historically have used existing local comprehensive planning statutes that authorize or require counties and municipalities to adopt land use plans and regulations as the basis for new laws to address encroachment concerns. Encroachment policy options build upon these existing laws by:

  • Requiring local governments to identify lands adjacent to military installations and adopt strategies to ensure that incompatible development does not occur; and
  • Expanding existing requirements that the military installation commander be notified and offered an opportunity to submit comments on the proposed change prior to a public hearing or planning/zoning change.

In addition, state legislatures have set up special revolving loan and grant funds, appropriated general fund revenue, and authorized the use of bond proceeds dedicated to open space preservation to purchase title or development rights to lands that would serve as buffers between military bases and expanding urban growth. Other land conservation tools that build upon existing statutory strategies may be used to offer incentives to local governments and landowners to preserve open space and farmland near military installations. These tools include:

  • Expansion of local government authority to purchase land for the continued operation of a military facility in addition to land conservation purposes;
  • Transfer of development rights from rural lands adjacent to military bases to urban areas that can accommodate increased density; and
  • Tax credits for the donation of conservation easements on lands with open space or agricultural values.

State Encroachment Legislation Categories

State legislatures in recent years have passed laws designed to prevent or mitigate the effects of encroachment. At least 20 states have enacted land use-related laws to address encroachment concerns (see map below). The types of land use laws fall into three categories.

  • Land Use Planning. Requires local governments to include in comprehensive plans criteria to be considered to ensure that land use adjacent to a military base is compatible with the military mission.
  • Notification of Military. Creates or expands procedural requirements to provide planning and zoning information to the military and creates a specific mechanism for the military to comment on how the proposed development or planning change affects the military mission.
  •  Land Conservation. Allocation of state resources for open space protection such as acquisition of title or development rights to land, conservation easements or transfer of development rights to restore and preserve open space and farmland or protect land from incompatible development.

encroachment map














State Land Use Planning Notification of Military Land Conservation

Ariz. Rev. Stat. §9-461.05, 11-806, 28-8461, 28-8481, 32-2114

Ariz. Rev. Stat. §9-461.06, 9-462.04, 9-500.28, 11-812,11-829, 28-8461, 28-8481

Ariz. Rev. Stat. §28-8480


Ark. Code §14-56-426


Cal. Govt. Code §65302, 65040

Cal. Pub. Res. Code §21098, Cal. Govt. Code §§65352, 65404, 65940, 65944

Cal. Pub. Res. Code §10230


Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 29-1-207, 30-28-106, 31-23-206


Fla. Stat. §163.3177

Fla. Stat. §163.3175

Fla. Stat. §§215.618, 259.105


Ga. Code Ann.

Ga. Code Ann.


Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 620, §52


Ind. Code § 2-5-20



2010 Kan. Sess. Laws, Chap. 21

2010 Kan. Sess. Laws, Chap. 21


Ky. Rev. Stat. § 100.187, 154.12-203 

Ky. Rev. Stat. §100.187


La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §33.4734, 33.4780.52


Mass. Gen. Laws 40B §4C


Neb. Rev. Stat. § 14-407, 15-1103, 19-923

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 14-407, 15-1103, 19-923  
New Jersey  

N.J. Rev. Stat. §40:55D-12.4, 40:55D-62.1

North Carolina  

N.C. Gen Stat. §153A-323, 160A-364

N.C. Gen Stat. §113-44.15 


Okla. Rev. Stat. §11-43-101.1

South Carolina  

S.C. Code §6-29-1530

S.C. Code §6 1 320(B)

South Dakota

S.D. Codified Laws §50-10-32 et seq.


Tex. Local Govt. Code §397.001 et seq.

Tex. Local Govt. Code §397.005, 397.006


Va. Code §15.2-2223, 15.2-2283

Va. Code §15.2-2204

Va. Code § 3.1-18.9 - 3.1-18.12


Wash. Rev. Code §36.70A.530 

Wash. Rev. Code §36.70A.530

Wash. Rev. Code §89.08.530, 89.08.540


Wisc. Statutes § 62.23

Wisc. Statutes § 62.23 


 Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, 2010 (Updated June 18, 2010)