A joint land use study is getting started regarding the area surrounding Camp Crowder, and Neosho residents will soon have the chance to learn more about the study, as well as voice their input.

The joint land use study, a four-way project between Camp Crowder, Newton County, the City of Neosho and the Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council, is a 10-month long study intended to enhance compatibility between the National Guard mission at Camp Crowder and the land surrounding that installment.

A public kick-off meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1 at the Neosho High School cafeteria.

Jason Ray, of the coordinating council, said the meeting will include a brief presentation from representatives from the project's consulting firm, White and Smith LLC.

The presentation will outline the study and its purpose, some maps of the area will be displayed and consultants are expected to hear from landowners or area businesses to get feedback or to hear any issues they may have.
Ray said a survey would also be distributed to those in attendance.

He said the joint land use study is being funded 90 percent by the Department of Defense, with the rest funded by a Community Development Block grant, and will be at no cost to the participants, including the City of Neosho and Newton County.

"This is kind of a trend around the country, they [the Department of Defense] only do a few a year," Ray said. "They examine military bases and the purpose of it is to just identify any encroachment issues, basically any type of land use problems or development around the fringe of the military installation and other operational issues."

Ray said the local project was started about two months ago, and is in the early stages.

He said the stake holders have met with project coordinators, and two committees have been put together, one made up of elected officials and one of government agencies.

Ray said while several governmental agencies and other entities are stake holders, Camp Crowder, the City of Neosho, Newton County and the coordinating council are the four spearheading the study.

"Getting one of these studies done is pretty good in helping to secure the future of an installation," Ray said.

He said it can also be helpful to identify any problems now instead of waiting until the day comes that the Department of Defense is looking to consolidate or close installations and sees issues at Camp Crowder.

"Basically the purpose of the study is to mitigate that and to continue the military operations at least status quo and then just prevent any issues," Ray said. "And also just to be good neighbors. There's sometimes a breakdown in communication between maybe the camp and neighboring land owners or businesses."

Ray said Camp Crowder is among four Missouri sites taking advantage of the land study, putting it at an advantage, as the Department of Defense funds a limited number of joint land use studies each year.

He said Fort Leanord Wood is wrapping up their study, Whiteman Air Force Base has completed their study, and Camp Clark is also about to initiate a study.

"Missouri is really kind of setting themselves up pretty well to get these studies knocked out," Ray said. "After the study's completed there are additional funds available from the Department of Defense to put in place any of the recommended strategies that are identified in the study."

Ray said the coordinating council's role in the study is to manage the project. The non-profit, which serves Barton, Jasper, McDonald and Newton Counties, put together the grant application and coordinated the public entities involved, and are helping to get private landowners and businesses involved.

Ray said funding for the project also flows through the coordinating council.

"We contract with the private consultant and we pay them and make sure the project just keeps going so that the city and the county don't have to devote too much of their resources to it," Ray said.

He said the next step in the study will involve the consultant working with the coordinating council and all other committee members to compile feedback from stake holder meetings and from Tuesday's public meeting. He said the consultant will then present a list of identified or potential issues.

He said strategies to handle identified issues would then be considered.

"This is really when we'll start talking about the meat of the study and figuring out where to go from there," Ray said.