Dan Cohen AUTHOR YesOceana, Virginia Beach’s innovative program to roll back encroachment threatening Naval Air Station Oceana, has been named a co-winner in its category for the 2016 Community Economic Development Awards presented by the Virginia Economic Developers Association.After NAS Oceana was threatened with closure following the last BRAC round, Virginia Beach developed a comprehensive initiative to reduce encroachment in the base’s clear zone and Accident Potential Zone 1 (APZ-1) through an aggressive incentive program targeting commercial businesses. YesOceana was designed to recruit and retain conforming businesses — such as wholesale trade, distribution and manufacturing operations — in APZ-1 and relocate nonconforming businesses from APZ-1 to other areas in Virginia Beach.Through fiscal 2015, the city has eliminated 53 nonconforming commercial properties, and it has committed $2.4 million to 31 businesses to promote compatible uses within the district. Incentives include a 90 percent rebate of the business licenses tax and/or real estate tax abatement for nonconforming properties that are rehabilitated, renovated or improved to a conforming use. Conforming businesses also may be reimbursed for fees associated with building permits, site plan applications, and water and sewer connections.By providing financial encouragement, Virginia Beach has been able to spur economic development in a way that is compatible with the mission of the base, according to a news release from the city.“With the support of other city departments and city leadership, we developed a program that serves as a vital economic development tool and strengthens our relationship with the Navy,” stated Michelle Chapleau, APZ-1 business development manager.YesOceana is now a catalyst for redevelopment of several major corridors in Virginia Beach. And its neighbors Hampton and Chesapeake are establishing similar programs to limit incompatible development outside Langley AFB and Fentress Landing Field, respectively. Virginia Beach split state funds it received last year for YesOceana with Chesapeake to support its program.