Burlington County Department of Economic Development and Regional Planning staff are partnering with staff and consultants from Ocean County and the Joint Base on a new Regional Compatible Use Study of the lands surrounding the mega-base.
As part of the study, Burlington and Ocean counties hosted an open house to share information collected by the study team and to also gather information and feedback from local residents. The Burlington County open house was held on Aug. 3 at the Pemberton Community Library.
“The Joint Base is a critical part of our nation’s security and defense and also our region’s economy and we are 100 percent committed to doing everything possible to support the installation and its missions,” said Burlington County Commissioner Deputy Director Tom Pullion, who serves as the board’s liaison to the study team. “This study is important because it will help guide us on future land-use decisions that could impact the base, as well as areas like hazard mitigation, communications and infrastructure that is important to the base’s short-term and long-term future.”
The Joint Base spans more than 42,000 acres across 20 miles and is made up of the previously separate installations of Fort Dix, McGuire Air Force Base and Naval Air Station Lakehurst. The three installations were merged to form the nation’s first tri-service installation following the 2005 round of military base reorganizations and closures.
The new Regional Compatible Use Study will update a 2009 plan known as the Joint Land Use Study that was completed by the two counties to mitigate encroachment and land-use conflicts by identifying areas for conservation, development and redevelopment around the installation. Updating the prior study will also identify new actions that could be undertaken by the two counties and surrounding municipalities to help protect and enhance the base and its many missions.
Among the areas the new study plans to focus on include current and future development patterns and land use compatibility around the base; current air and ground noise; recommendations for continuing and improving intergovernmental communication; military and community needs; hazard mitigation around the base; energy compatibility and resilience and resiliency opportunities.
The new study is being funded by the U.S. Department of Defense with no County expense except for staff time. It is tentatively expected to be completed early next year.
Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel, who is the board’s liaison to the Joint Base and Military Affairs, said the open house offers local residents the opportunity to learn more about the installation and provide crucial feedback and input that can help with efforts to enhance the installation and support its missions.
“The Joint Base and the men and women who serve on the installation are valued members of Burlington County’s communities and we want to protect those jobs and support their work and missions,” Eckel said. “This study will provide an updated blueprint for how our counties can accomplish that goal. By working together, we can ensure the Joint Base remains active, secure and off any base closure lists for the foreseeable future.”