As a follow-on implementation project to the Keesler Air Force Base (AFB) Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) that was completed by Matrix, we developed a Vertical Obstruction Assessment Tool (VOAT), height hazard maps, and a web-based airspace calculator application to assess the potential for future development to obstruct and jeopardize the military flight mission at Keesler AFB. The critical drivers for the tools developed were: 1) potential encroachment from vertical development in close proximity to the airfield, and 2) the potential for offshore recreation (kitesurfing and parasailing) to interfere with the flight path of Keesler AFB aircraft.
Developed in GIS, the VOAT has a simple and intuitive graphic interface and instantly provides maximum buildable heights with a simple click of the mouse or query of parcel information. The military airspace surrounding Keesler AFB is both unique and critical, consisting not only of Federal Aviation Administration/Department of Defense imaginary surfaces, but also the Existing Military Operations Surface — a set of airspace surfaces associated with the tactical training mission at the base. The VOAT was developed in collaboration with numerous stakeholders to ensure data accuracy and functionality, relative to area needs. These stakeholders oversaw the preparation of height hazard maps based on the VOAT, participated in a VOAT training session, and were provided a training manual to guide regular usage and tool updates as conditions change.
The VOAT, height hazard maps, and web application were developed for use by Keesler AFB, Harrison County and local cities, economic development agencies, and the development community and proposed for integration with county and city codes. Because these tools provide critical height information through a simple, easy-to-use interface, they have several critical benefits:
- Reduce developer cost and time when preparing plans by providing early certainty and enabling maximum development across a parcel (when buildable heights are variable)
- Reassure Keesler AFB that community planners are accurately assessing maximum buildable heights
- Improve planning staff efficiency, resources, and decision-making when evaluating incoming development applications
- Provide specific and accurate decision-making power for planning officials on more complex development approvals
- Protect the flight mission at Keesler AFB by eliminating the potential for human error during the manual calculation of maximum buildable heights