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Fort's future is under study
Fort A.P. Hill, surrounding communities working on joint land-use study

Date published: 1/8/2013


Noise and vibration from military training can be disruptive for communities surrounding military posts such as Fort A.P. Hill.

And from the Army's perspective, development outside the gates can limit its activities and threaten its long-term viability.

Those are a few of the key issues in a joint land-use study being prepared on behalf of the sprawling Army post and the jurisdictions that surround it. Residents will have their first opportunity to weigh in during informational meetings later this month.

The towns of Bowling Green and Port Royal, along with Caroline, Essex, King George and Spotsylvania counties, are working with the Army on the study, which should be completed later this year.

Two consulting firms, AECOM in Alexandria, and Travesky & Associates in Fairfax, are assisting with the study paid for by the Army.

The localities have similar concerns. Bowling Green, for example, is looking at noise issues and vibration from ordnance and aircraft, along with development and some other matters, said Stephen Manster, the town manager.

"Overall, the base is not too happy with a lot of the residential development around the area," Manster said. The town, meanwhile, has to plan for its future residential and business placement, while keeping A.P. Hill and its mission in mind.

Issues go beyond development.

Caroline County has applied for a permit to withdraw water from the Rappahannock River. To deliver that water to customers in Bowling Green, which is now served only by wells, the pipeline might have to cross Army property.

Encompassing more than 76,000 acres in Caroline and Essex counties, the fort was a rural outpost when it was founded in 1941. But that has changed as development encroached upon one of the Army's most important training venues along the East Coast.

Over the years, there have been tensions between neighbors and A.P. Hill, mainly over noise and vibration.

In April 2009, some residents of Portobago Bay subdivision, on the Rappahannock off U.S. 17, complained of popped nails and cracks in drywall following some types of ordnance training.

The following year, a plan to establish an explosive ordnance training school on an existing range brought swift opposition from some residents and officials in Port Royal.

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Information sessions on the A.P. Hill joint land-use study will be held:

Jan. 22, 6-9 p.m. at the U.S. Army Reserve Center Cooke, 26568 Taliaferro Trail, Fort A.P. Hill;

Jan. 23, 6-9 p.m. at the Caroline County Community Services Center, 17202 Richmond Turnpike, Milford;

Jan. 24, 6-9 p.m., Lee Hill Community Center, 1 H.C.C. Drive, in Spotsylvania.

The meetings include an open house, with maps and project staff available. Each meeting will include a formal presentation at 7 p.m., followed by a question-and-answer session at 7:30.

For more information on the study, fortaphilljlus@aecom.com