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Texas Leaders Worry About Military Bases

Reshma Kirpalani/KUT News

Some military leaders in Texas are worried about development projects encroaching on their bases. The Texas House Defense & Veterans Affairs committee met today to hear public testimony in favor of new legislation to prevent developers from building too close to military installations, which include bases, camps and stations. 

Supporters say that encroaching development threatens the training of personnel and, in cases where missions are transferred and bases shut down because of nearby development, waste tax-payer dollars that were spent on building them.

One of these supporters was Capt. Mark McLaughlin, the commanding officer of the Naval Air Station in Kingsville, Texas. The naval base is one of only two in the nation that trains jet pilots. Currently, it is in negotiations with wind farm developers who want to place 1,400 wind turbines near the base. At today's hearing McLaughlin said that this development may interfere with the radar used for the station's air traffic control missions.

"I would sleep a lot better at night if I knew I had some protections for the base that would offer us a way to get developers who want to build within so many miles of an airport, just have them come see us, so that we can negotiate with [them]," McLaughlin said.

Representative Lyle Larson, who attended today's hearing, proposed legislation last March to grant certain local governments zoning authority around some military facilities, providing a penalty to encroaching builders. The bill was left pending in committee in April.

Reshma Kirpalani works as a freelancer at KUT News.
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