Areas of conflict and of cooperation between the Camp Crowder National Guard Training Center and the surrounding communities in Newton and McDonald counties will be unveiled May 19 when an overview of the recently completed 2014 Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) for Camp Crowder is presented by the Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council.
The HSTCC will host a joint work session at 5 p.m. in the Lampo Community Center, 500 E. Spring Street, Neosho, with the elected officials of Newton and McDonald counties and the cities of Neosho and Goodman.
Troy Royer, Neosho city manager, said the JLUS began last August to evaluate the land use compatibility on and near Camp Crowder, including nearby communities, landowners and businesses, and state agencies.
“To make sure that nothing around the base prohibits the mission of that base or camp,” Royer said. “Looking at zoning issues, encroachment issues, the land use patterns around that area.”
First Lt. Jason Snyder, Camp Crowder, said the Department of Defense is initiating Joint Land Use Studies for military bases across the country to ensure the viability of all active duty and reserve component ranges long-term. Similar studies have recently been completed for Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base, and another is getting underway for Camp Clark.
“My higher-ups saw it as a priority to make sure – since the vast majority of range fire that occurs in the state of Missouri occurs here – that it be conducted here first,” Snyder said. “[ The study looked at] basically that any type of landowner around us, or city zonings, county zonings, are compatible with military training: any type of noise, light, traffic, anything that can impede our future use of it is addressed.”
Royer said the city does not present many issues for the base, as the section of Neosho that borders the west side of the base is industrial.
“Mainly what they are trying to avoid right there around the base is any kind of residential, anything that somebody’s going to live where they are going to hear that activity, and that’s why they did the noise contours,” Royer said.
He said the military does not want to have residential developments on the east side of the base, which is in the county and is not zoned.
“Say a farmer out there or somebody that’s cropping or has cattle or whatever, doesn’t decide to go ahead and all of a sudden do a subdivision, or start selling off lots,” Royer said. “And then people not understanding that you border a camp that has training activities that go all year round.”
Snyder said maintaining the status quo around the base is the objective of the DoD. He said the JLUS gives some recommendations to do so — which are directed to area elected officials and surrounding businesses and landowners — though those are not mandates. He said one is for landowners to place in their deeds stating that it is bordering the military.
“Which in turn helps Moark and different entities maintain their viability as far as maintaining their business structure around here also,” Snyder said.
As both a military officer and an adjacent landowner, Snyder said he sees both sides of it.
“I’m not a big fan of zoning,” he said. “But in this situation, zoning would actually restrict the amount of housing that can go in around us, especially on the east side, which would be appealing to me as a landowner also. I view it as a good thing.”
Royer said the city’s future land use plan out there is for it to stay industrial, but the city has no say about the east side of the base. He said one area in which the city does create a conflict is the airport and the city does try to work with them.
“So if they’re going to have live fire going out there – basically if you take off to the south, when you take off the general rule is that you bank to the left, and when they take off to the south they bank off to the left, and they go right over their live firing range.”
Royer said the camp provides reports for when they will have live firing, and those are posted at the airport, and a “Notice to Airmen” is given so pilots know to adjust their flight path accordingly. He said if live firing is commencing on base and a plane flies overhead, the soldiers must stop what they are doing until the airspace is clear. Royer said not only must they stop their training is such situations, but they must start it all over from the beginning, which can really inhibit the training efforts at the camp. He said the city is working on ways to get better notice to pilots and to advise them to travel a further distance upon takeoff before banking when live fire training is ongoing.
Jason Ray, program manager, HSTCC, said consultants will present the final version of the study on May 19, and will begin a discussion on what to do with the study.
“Highlighting some funding options that the DoD has so they can implement some of the recommendations in the study.” Ray said.
When the study was initiated, Ray said there was no plan to expand or decrease operation at Camp Crowder.
“Since then,” he said, “there’s been some rumors that they might be looking at increasing operations, but that’s not been confirmed and it’s not a result of the study. But having this in place will allow the National Guard, or the Department of Defense, to take a look what assets they have and if they are looking to consolidate or expand operations, this study will serve as a tool to understand what’s going on in the area.”
Ray said a current copy of the study is available on their website, www.crowder-jlus.org.