Although the Fort Bragg / Pope Air Force Base Regional Land Use Advisory Commission (RLUAC) was organized in 1991 from a recommendation contained in the "Fort Bragg / Pope Air Force Base Joint Land Use Study" (JLUS) completed earlier that same year, it did not become incorporated until September, 2004. The JLUS recommendation suggested the creation of a regional planning commission that would serve as a forum to advance better planning and communication between the military bases and the surrounding civilian local governments. The Commission initially met every other month throughout the year over lunch, and was successful in bringing to public attention the importance of avoiding high density residential development in areas near military airports and in artillery/aircraft high noise areas.
The Commission developed Bylaws that were adopted by the local government members and the military installations. However, the Commission had no money or staff. It was dependent upon the North Carolina Division of Community Assistance and the Fort Bragg Planning Office for assistance in setting up meetings, contacting potential speakers, sending meeting notices, and preparing agendas. Eventually interest in the Commission waned and it went on a two-year hiatus from 1998 until the Summer of 2000.
In the Summer of 2000 former RLUAC members were polled to see if they would be interested in participating in a revised Commission. The response was very positive, so the Commission was reactivated in the Fall of 2000. The reactivation included amending the Bylaws to permit the expansion of the membership to allow municipalities from each of the seven member counties to join. (membership currently includes 8 counties, 12 municipalities, Fort Bragg, which includes the former Pope Air Force Base).
Discussions were also held with a number of environmental groups and organizations in an effort to expand the Commissions’ purpose to include the protection of the environment – especially the recovery efforts for the Red Cockaded Woodpecker.
Later in 2000 the Commission applied for and received a grant from the Office of Economic Adjustment at the Pentagon to partially fund the preparation of a new Joint Land Use Study (JLUS). To round out the grant the North Carolina Department of Commerce provided a major “in-kind” contribution and member governments raised the remaining funds that were needed.
From early in 2001 until the Summer of 2003, the RLUAC’s efforts and meetings were largely consumed with progress reports and rendering decisions regarding the Joint Land Use Study. Following the JLUS’s adoption by both the Commission and its members in 2003 through the end of 2006, most of the RLUAC efforts were directed towards the implementation of the study’s recommendations.
With the adoption of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) report by Congress and the President in late 2006 and the creation of the local BRAC Regional Task Force (BRAC RTF) in early 2007, RLUAC has acquired a number of additional responsibilities. In February 2007, RLUAC was awarded a contract to prepare a Joint Land Use Study update for a five mile study area surrounding Fort Bragg, Pope Air Force Base, and Camp Mackall. It was also commissioned to develop a Light Pollution Study and a Telecom Tower Study for inclusion in the Regional Growth Plan. During November 2007, RLUAC was awarded a two year contract with Fort Bragg to conduct reviews of all proposed rezonings and subdivisions within the five mile area surrounding the post.
Throughout RLUAC’s first thirteen years it operated without a budget or staff of its own. In September of 2004, the Commission voted unanimously to incorporate, identify potential sources of permanent funding, and to seek IRS tax exempt status as a 501(c)3 entity.
RLUAC employed a part-time Executive Director in January 2005, raised sufficient funding from the member governments and the Governor of North Carolina to meet its financial obligations for FY 2005-06, ccontracted with Mid Carolina Council of Governments to provide its fiscal managment, and achieved its tax exempt status in February 2006.
RLUAC continues to meet on a quarterly basis to conduct business and to provide useful planning related information to its members. Attendance at the meetings generally exceeds fifty people.
Giles Hopkins, Tim McNeill, Rep. Margaret Dixon David MacKinnon