Joint land use study to help guide Redstone Arsenal growth

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - Redstone Arsenal is asking for your ideas about what it needs to keep in mind as it grows, while the communities outside and around the base grow too.

Multiple municipalities that touch Redstone Arsenal are all participating in the joint land use study headed by the city of Huntsville. They have enlisted Matrix Design Group, which specializes in protecting and growing the relationship between municipalities and military installations.

Redstone Arsenal shares its borders with Marshall County, Morgan County, Madison County, and the cities of Madison, Huntsville, and Triana. Each of them have master plans, and plans to develop.

Leaders say this study can help provide much-needed communication, while keeping people's health and safety in mind.

"We are making sure that as the community grows, as Redstone grows, we all grow together instead of having independent plans outside of each other," said Col. Tom Holliday, Redstone Arsenal Garrison Commander. "As we grow in size, population gets larger, that's more traffic on the streets. That's additional utilities that are needed. There are all sorts of things that go into that and we want to make sure we are being a good neighbor with the cities and the counties."

The study is being paid by a federal grant worth $475,000. The project is currently in the data gathering phase, which is where Monday's public meeting came in.

Nearly 50 people came to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to hear about the study and give their feedback. Consultants say they wanted to find out what Redstone Arsenal and the communities need to focus on as they grow, gather the input and then determine if it's compatible with future plans. The input will be treated as insight into what the people think is important.

Fred Ecklund, a Huntsville resident, said he came to the meeting to hear about environmental issues. He said he doesn't want to see problems.

"I don't want to see the toxic chemicals going into our watershed, into our land," he said. He added, "We just want to make sure that as they start to develop and expand, or the community gets closer to the arsenal, we make sure that those environmental concerns are addressed properly."

Tom Hyzer, of Madison, said he wanted to hear more about the trails on and surrounding Redstone, but he left with other concerns.

"I was just hoping they would expand the trails. But after listening to this too, and living here for 7 months and seeing all kinds of vehicles flying through the sky it was good to find out more about what's going on on the arsenal." He said, "Hopefully they are being responsible when they are testing stuff."

The study is taking into consideration 25 different factors called "compatibility factors", including air quality, energy, housing availability, land use, noise, and vibration. They want to hear from you.

"Learning what they see gives us a second opinion of how we should look at ourselves," said Col. Holliday.

Huntsville planners say the Rocket City is also growing, and they will use this study to see how best to do so.

"We're looking at the areas around Zeirdt Road, around the Parkway. What's happening on the Tennessee River, any areas that adjoin Redstone Arsenal," explained Scott Erwin with the City of Huntsville Planning Department.

"We have testing ranges. Missiles and flyovers and just issues on and off the arsenal we need to be aware of. To make sure we don`t build something off the Arsenal that could be in the way of a flight path," said Erwin.

The hope is this information will lead to a plan that will best serve all of the surrounding communities. The firm will provide recommendations to each party about what should come next or be kept in mind in future growth decisions.

The next public meeting about this will be in the spring.

If you were unable to make it to this meeting but wanted to leave your feedback, click here to do so electronically.