A small group of Neosho area residents gathered at the Neosho High School Tuesday evening to learn more about a joint land use study involving Camp Crowder and the community surrounding the local Army National Guard installment.
The study, being performed by White and Smith, in conjunction with Marstel-Day, LLC and overseen by the Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council, kicked off just over two weeks ago.
Tyson Smith, of White and Smith, presented an overview of the study process Tuesday evening.
He said the project is financed by the Department of Defense, with the intent of promoting "responsible land use planning between the community and the military installation."
He said the first step in the project was to meet with key stakeholders, which include Camp Crowder, the City of Neosho, Newton County, state representatives, Crowder College, the Neosho R-5 School District, and industry representatives, among others.
"What we generally heard in all of our stakeholder interviews was that coordination between Camp Crowder and the community is very good," Smith said. "We also heard that there are very few issues or concerns about encroachment outside Camp Crowder onto Camp Crowder and its operations."
He said representatives from McDonald County would also be brought into the study.
However, Smith said the heart of the study is a one-mile radius surrounding the camp. Smith said similar studies at other sites have found areas of encroachment such as the presence of endangered species on the installation, weapons training noise, aircraft noise, electronic frequency spectrum issues or maritime airspace restrictions.
He said 97 joint land use studies have been performed since 1985.
Camp Crowder is also not the first in Missouri to undergo a study, as sites such as Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base have also gone through the process.
"These studies are sought after at installations around the country," Smith said.
He said the study currently consists of gathering public input, including survey results, which will be presented at the next public meeting to be held in December.
Also available at that meeting will be the results of the 2013 noise study performed at Camp Crowder.
Smith said Camp Crowder is about 4,400 acres, and that the Army National Guard site primarily performs weapons training, such as small arms operations and demolitions in the southern part of the base.
He said the entire process of the land use study involves three sections, the first which is being performed now, where background information, including economic impact, overview of the training mission at Camp Crowder, and relevant demographic information is gathered. The second phase is the land use analysis, which identifies potential incompatibilities and the third phase is the recommendations of how to address those incompatibilities.
He said the process involves public meetings, such as the one held Tuesday evening, as well as two steering committees; a policy committee made up of elected and appointed officials and a technical committee, made up of staff members with technical expertise.
Page 2 of 2 - Smith said representatives from Marstel-Day LLC will also perform a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis.
On Tuesday, Elizabeth Scaggs of Marstel-Day also presented a survey to attendees with 21 questions regarding Camp Crowder and the surrounding area.
That survey is also available on the project's website, and must be completed by Nov. 15.
The survey will allow those performing the study to include public input.
Questions on the survey include asking participants how long they have lived in the region, how close their property is to Camp Crowder and if they are supportive of the National Guard's presence in Newton County.
Smith said the land use maps would be presented for comment and review in the public December meeting, and that the draft study should be ready by February.
The entire process is expected to be finalized by April.
Neosho City Manager Troy Royer spoke to the city council about the study Tuesday evening and encouraged the council's involvement.
"I think we're really blessed here to have Camp Crowder and I'd like them to stay," Royer said. "They do provide an economic benefit for us for the city."
For more information or to complete the survey, visit www.crowder-jlus.org.