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JLUS (Zoning) Otero County
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NEW ! Joint Land Use Study “IMPLEMENTATION”, or zoning of rural areas in order to expand military operations in Otero County pushed by Department of Defense.

Department of Defense operations have a significant impact on rural Otero County. We have one of the only supersonic flight corridors over homes in the USA. This corridor is also one of the lowest (closest to the ground) in the USA. It was originally justified for the F-22 aircraft but now that the F-22 has left the USAF continues to claim the sonic boom corridor. In addition to sonic booms we have German Air Force. Trainees fly at 500 feet above the ground and 575 mph over area ranches (and “buzzing” homes). Also in the mix are foreign pilots from various countries practicing bombing and missile use. Air to air refueling for several groups is conducted. Drones on “training” flights. Drones on missions. Laser targeting. Etc.

The list goes on.

Every year or so the USAF/DoD encroaches more on rural residents. In 2007 it was the sonic boom corridor. In 2011 it was the F-35 and Drones. In 2013 it is a massive zoning regulation (called “Joint Land Use Survey”).

Rural residents are at the mercy of the indifferent, powerful DoD.

April 11, 2017 UPDATE

JLUS “Implementation” is back after defeat by the Otero County Commission in 2015. The new District 3 Otero County Commissioner Lori Bies will now attend JLUS Implementation meetings. This is at Commissioner Bies request. This Otero County participation was agreed to by the Board of County Commissioners during the 4/14/17 meeting. I view this as a mistake that will lead to rural zoning. The implementation of Joint Land Use will provide benefit to the Department of Defense, City of Alamogordo, El Paso, etc at the cost of private property rights in rural areas (as usual).

Quick Summary April 12, 2017 - HERE

My October 2014 summary of JLUS is below:

Analysis of the
“Joint Land Use Study and the
“Draft JLUS Technical Appendix
Commonly know as the “Land Use” Grab

By Walt Coffman, October 15, 2014

DISCLAIMER: This is my work and represents my opinions. This is a summary, and material is abbreviated, quoted out of context, and selected. This is by necessity, in order to summarize hundreds of pages of “fluff”. I believe that despite all this, my analysis reflects the intent of the Draft Joint Land Use Study (“Land Use”). Please read the entire Draft Joint Land Use Study, the Technical Appendix and the Compatibility Strategy Menu and form your own opinion.
                             ~ Walt Coffman, Weed, NM


The Draft “Land Use” Report outlines a massive change in land use and land use regulation. The primary, overriding goal for this land use regulation is to support any and all Department of Defense wants (whether actually needed or not). The Draft “Land Use” Report offers no protection to capricious DoD demands, nor does it provide a mechanism to return rights when the DoD no longer needs them. There is no reasonable civilian citizen review. There are zero checks and balances. The Draft “Land Use” plan interlaces all the government agencies - Federal, State and Local and each is urged to enact law or regulation over private property in Otero County. The result is a massive maze of regulation. This makes an impenetrable bog of law, regulation, permitting, and zoning. Each government entity has some finger in Otero County land use under this “Land Use” plan. I feel this is intentional and eliminates the private citizen's ability to question or have input to DoD expansion. This regulation maze will make using your rural property or future property development difficult and expensive, especially in the “Military Influence Area” and “Buffer” zones. The proposed “Land Use” changes can not help but reduce property values. Least affected will be urban areas such as the Alamogordo corridor. Most affected will be rural Otero County such as the “Military Influence Area” here in the Pinon – Weed area.Coincidentally (I’m sure) this rural area is the same one that has no representation on the JLUS.


1. There has been no voting rural representation on the “Land Use” group from Otero County. This includes representation on either the Steering Committee or the Technical Committee. In addition, suggestions and questions from rural residents have been largely ignored. None of my questions were addressed. Zero voting representation. Zero.

2. The implementation plan has no reasonable or prudent review of Department of Defense needs. The three military installations of Fort Bliss (FTB), White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), and Holloman Air Force Base (HAFB).) can demand more from us every year. The JLUS Implementation assumes that any requested DoD encroachment is to be implemented. There is no mechanism for Otero County to review the legitimacy of the encroachment. DoD has shown that once they take, they keep. Over time Otero County will gradually loose as the military takes. As an example, in 2007 the USAF claimed they needed a supersonic corridor over Weed / Pinon to support the F-22 aircraft. This corridor was not needed when previous aircraft flew out of Holloman (such as the F-16) but, the USAF said, the F-22 is different. When the F-22 left last year, and the F16 scheduled to return, did the USAF return the supersonic corridor to the local residents (and stop booming us)? No. They kept it. It was “free” for them. What is to keep the DoD from expanding demands every year? What fair and reasonable review does the JLUS Implementation provide as a check and balance for DoD demands? There is none. How will this affect the private property owner? I believe that every few years the citizen / taxpayer / land owner will be “allowed” to do less on their private property. There are ZERO limits on DoD in this Draft JLUS. Is that fair and reasonable?

3. The Draft “Land Use” Report introduces a new dimension to military encroachment. There are new terms and a new approach. The “Land Use” plan is to systematize taking of land use, using County, State, Federal government rules & regulations to help DoD. New terms are discussed in the Draft Report and the Technical Appendix; “Buffers” and (I quote) “Define and maintain a Military Influence Area (MIA) as an overlay to the zoning map” are now freely discussed along with how to enforce them. Can you say ZONING ?? For example to quote the Appendix:

“Within the MIA, the [County/City] will implement a variety of land use, communication and other mitigation techniques to reduce possible land use conflicts and protect the health and safety of people and property in affected areas.”

Notice the threat about health and safety. They imply that if they don't get the increased military encroachment (reduced land use) that they demand, our health and safety will be at risk.

Many readers may believe that these “buffer” and “MIA” terms refer to the areas immediately adjacent to the military installations. This is not what is meant or stated in the Draft JLUS. In the case of Holloman the area affected by “buffering” or to have a Military Influence Area is that area UNDER THE MILITARY TRAINING ROUTES and UNDER THE MILITARY OPERATIONS AREAS as well as area around the base itself. Again, for Holloman, there is a map showing these areas on page 35 of the Draft Report (each installation has similar areas shown). For Holloman the area is HUGH and includes 50 to 100 miles out every direction from the base. Please look at the map.

What is at stake? (long List – but DoD wants a lot)

Here is a list of current proposed military encroachment (who knows what they will ask for next year). This is just a few items out of many, many more. I am quoting the Draft document so look for the quotation “ “ marks!:

1. DoD seeks (demands) that Otero County control all development or improvements in unincorporated areas (like Pinon – Weed). “Use extra-territorial zones or jurisdiction to promote development compatibility in unincorporated areas.”. AND “The region’s local governments lack specific land use tools to promote development on private lands that is compatible with military operations.” This is proposed zoning / regulation to support the German Air Force as well as the USAF and DoD.

2. DoD wants Otero County to require real-estate disclosures. DoD has claimed that property values are not affected by their operations so why a disclosure? Does anyone think that a noise / health / safety disclosure will help sell your property? I quote: “Require the recording of a note on title to real property as part of any discretionary development permit, approval, or property transfer” (about DoD noise safety concerns).

DoD wants Otero County to require (I quote) “ Adopt sound attenuation building standards and/or energy efficiency practices as a means to achieve complementary indoor sound reduction in new construction of noise sensitive uses.”. More costs for private property owners. What happens when you are taking a walk in the woods? Shall we all wear ear plugs 24/7? This regulation is to be enforced by: “NM CID, building permit”.

3. Private property? DoD wants to “Review community development and infrastructure proposals” in Otero County.

4. DoD to review and input to Otero County “Comprehensive/Specific Plan amendments or updates, zoning changes, land development code changes, and subdivision plats.”.

5. For Otero County DoD to “Define and maintain a Military Influence Area (MIA) as an overlay to the zoning map.“ AND “ Within the MIA, the [County/City] will implement a variety of land use, communication and other mitigation techniques to reduce possible land use conflicts . . . .” Hmmm “conflicts” wonder what that is?

6. DoD wants a buffer. “Open space, agriculture, and low-density uses adjacent to military activities provide a critical buffer that protects surrounding areas from the nuisance and safety risks of nearby military operations” note that this includes the Weed – Pinon corridor and implies that land use should be restricted. Recall they are talking about land under Military Training Routes too – not just around Holloman AFB.

7. For all Otero County construction, permits DoD wants to “Review community development and infrastructure proposals for interaction that could produce compatibility challenges with training and testing operations, including: noise sensitive uses in areas of known exposure to aviation and range noise; physical infrastructure that could interfere with low-level flight operations; and sources of electrical emissions that could interfere with military communications or navigation systems.” Note the references to electrical emissions and area wide zoning/land use regulation.

8. DoD seeks to tie up New Mexico Land Office lands limiting private commercial use “Execute agreements between the DoD installations and the NMSLO that define uses of land and airspace, modes of consultation, and cooperative planning”

9. DoD seeks to influence / control solar / wind development in Otero County - “Compatibility issues, however, can exist between energy infrastructure and military operations. Energy projects can cause glare, vertical obstruction, and interruption to communication signals, such as "shadowing" effects from spinning
turbine blades that limit radar's ability to detect aircraft or damage to infrastructure caused by debris from
mid-air missile test targeting.”

10. DoD wants Otero County to codify their taking of property in the County plans. “Incorporate compatibility in updates of local Comprehensive Plans and other policy documents and include references to compatibility with installations, military operations, maps, and recommendations identified in the JLUS” . Note the work “compatibility” means property taking.

11. DoD seeks zoning in Otero County. “Establish by-right access to conservation subdivision layouts in areas of known noise exposure so that lots can be condensed and open space can be dedicated on parcels”. No limits on geographic area so this affects Pinon – Weed.

12. If you complain about noise you are targeted for additional zoning and property rights loss: “Use current data on noise complaints to identify noise exposed areas.” AND “Develop a series of maps/graphics or slides that identify areas of overlap between noise exposure and surrounding land use, which can then become basis of more specific land use planning for local, state and federal entities”.

13. DoD needs more radio spectrum in Otero County (cell phone / wifi, gps, satellite internet etc are possible targets). “Frequency use is expanding in SNMEP JLUS area where military and commercial uses are competing for spectrum use and clarity can be compromised.” Taking the use of radio frequencies in our area will have lasting effects. We all rely on technology which relies on these frequencies.

14. Otero County Emergency Services will be impacted by DoD activities; “Coordinate with local emergency responders and other critical users prior to any GPS jamming exercises”. Note emergencies don't happen on DoD's schedule. Jamming during a medical emergency can kill people.

15. Use zoning in Otero County as requested by DoD: “Build on existing AICUZ and ICUZ compatibility guidance to address all areas affected by safety and noise from military operations outside installation boundaries, including areas underlying restricted and special use airspace”

16 Otero County to control outdoor light: “Light pollution can interfere with training and other military and civilian operations (e.g. observatories) that are sensitive to light in the surrounding environment.”

17 Otero County to regulate grazing (with help from State/Federal government): “Develop procedures to coordinate on livestock trespassing issues and leverage the granting of NMSLO or BLM grazing allotments or permits to promote compliance with grazing unit/allotment and boundaries”.

18. Control private land use and economy at the State level: “Define a geographic planning area (using GIS) to identify where military operations may affect surrounding areas or where civilian action may interact with missions” and “Require inclusion of cost-benefit analysis of military impacts in state-wide planning processes that establish high level priorities for revenue, jobs, and local community economic health and are used to evaluate project proposals and initiatives” and “Advocate for state legislation to require joint consultation procedures for certain development or land use change actions in specific areas around military installations.”. AND “Advocate for state legislation to require real estate disclosure for initial and all subsequent transactions in noise-exposed areas, such as noise contours or accident potential zones”.

19. DoD wants to limit private drone use (not DoD use); “Control or restrict use of small UAS to
observe and photograph activities”

20. Otero County to advocate that the State approve energy projects in the County: “Advocate for state-level legislation to coordinate new energy development and recognize the importance of military missions . . .  .”. This takes control from our County.

21. DoD wants the water: “Review existing regional water studies and adjust/update for military
supply and demand and collaborate on water conservation measures”.

and on, and on, and on . . . .

This is a quick overview from my perspective. I note that the “Technical Appendix” was dated yesterday and is not well put together. Looks like it was put together after I requested it. Also, I must state that I see nothing wrong with Otero County's current land use zoning/regulation. Why change?

Finally, there must be some limits placed on the Department of Defense's takings. They already own or control large areas of this Country. How much is enough? 10%? 50%? 80%? 99.9%? As long as they can, they will take. After all the price is right.



Walt Coffman
1014 NM Hwy 24
Weed, NM 88354


I suppose I will be specially “zoned” because of my analysis and noise complaints.

Our Constitution states in part (read it if you don't believe me):

 “. . . . nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Every HAFB Commander I have spoken with (several) has stated that (I quote) “Mission comes first.” This in the context of taking the use of my property. This “mission first” stuff must trump our Constitution. Thank goodness they are saving me from bad guys.

On another occasion, a close friend and I were discussing property takings. It was a heated discussion. I quoted the Constitution. He broke up laughing. After he recovered he said: “What Constitution?”.

Indeed, What Constitution ?


Disclaimer, we are NOT lawyers (thank God). Information on this site is not legal advice. For that go to a lawyer.