Jan 27, 2012 1:03 AM by John Romero

Landowners voice concerns over proposed military expansion

The military is getting some push back from local landowners when it comes to the new 13th Combat Aviation Brigade

Thursday night marked a crowded and sometimes boisterous debate in Colorado Springs, as the public gave their thoughts on proposed expansion plans both at Fort Carson and in Pinon Canyon.

There have been some concerns about noise pollution from the public. Right now the army is proposing construction of support sites at both the Wilderness Road complex and the Butts Army Airfield, both of which are on post.

The other big debate has been about proposals to build 7 concrete helicopter pads at the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site. The Army has said other than the pads, they aren't trying to expand the Pinon Canyon site for at least 5 years. "At Fort Carson the goal is to use the existing terrain at Pinon Canyon and use it effectively." explains Col. Robert McLaughlin, the Garrison Commander at Fort Carson, "And most importantly, be good stewards of the environment."

Still, long time land owners in that area like Lon Robertson, President of the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition, have some big concerns about a possible expansion and loss of their land. "We see more than just an expansion as an issue." he explains, "We see what would happen later down the road to my children and my children's children."

Robertson says he supports the military and the troops, but he also supports the rights and freedoms of the land owners to keep what is theirs. "Are we even going to have a country to produce food for if we keep giving up property for the sake of defense when it seems like we're able to provide for the defense that we need right now." he questions.

Colonel McLaughlin says the ultimate mission is for Fort Carson to work both in the best interests of the army, but the surrounding community as well. "It's tremendously important that we are able to balance the training and readiness of soldiers, both at Fort Carson and Pinon Canyon and that we're good neighbors with the community." he explains.

There's still no word on exactly when final decision will be made. The first public comment period ends on February 2nd. A second public comment period will run from late March through late April



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