Workshops to offer information, seek feedback on Fort Eustis land use

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(Courtesy Airman 1st Class Kaylee Dubois, U.S. Air Force.)
Vessels sit in the docks at Third Port at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. (Courtesy Airman 1st Class Kaylee Dubois, U.S. Air Force)

The municipalities of Newport News and James City County are collaborating with Fort Eustis to host a series of community workshops regarding a federal land use study.

The Fort Eustis Joint Land Use Study will determine and implement measures that allow the fort and the surrounding community to operate in a manner that benefits both parties, according to a press release from James City County.

“The JLUS planning process is intended to increase public awareness of the military missions and contribution to the regional economy, and protect and preserve military readiness and defense capabilities while supporting continued community economic development,” stated the release.

According to project manager and Newport News Manager of Comprehensive Planning Britta Ayers, a series of workshops will be jointly hosted by Newport News, James City County and Fort Eustis in order to keep the community informed and glean public feedback regarding the JLUS.

The first workshop will be Tuesday between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. at James River Elementary School, followed by another at the Denbigh Community Center Wednesday, March 8 at the same time. Both workshops are free and open to the public.

Ayers said that, for example, a single-family residential development may not be an appropriate neighbor for Fort Eustis, because of the noise created by activities on the base.

“We want [residents] to walk away understanding the need for the study,” Ayers said. “With Fort Eustis, our concern is understanding what their mission is, what they do on a day-to-day basis and their training mission and to ensure they can continue that training mission.”

The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command is based at Fort Eustis. TRADOC trains and develops members the U.S. Army, and roughly 5,000 students train at Fort Eustis annually, according to the project website. A total of 22,000 active duty, National Guard, Army Reserve, civilians, and family members are based at Fort Eustis with TRADOC.

The project’s website indicates that public feedback will be a primary source of information to ensure that the JLUS is “well rounded and encompassing of the community.” In addition to the workshops, other avenues for public comment will include the project’s Facebook page, stakeholder interviews and project handouts.

The Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment provides grants support local governments in conducting land use studies, according to the release. A JLUS was conducted for Langley Air Force Base before it was merged with Fort Eustis in 2010, making the two installations a joint base. The current JLUS will focus solely on Fort Eustis and the development and use of the land surrounding it.

The JLUS is designed to “identify and document potential impacts and opportunities to establish shared goals and long-term compatibility with adjacent localities,” stated the release, and to prevent adjacent construction that is incompatible with the base.

Community concerns listed on the project website include flooding and sea level rise, regional growth stressing infrastructure and transportation systems, and competition for access to the James River with civilian and recreational watercraft.

“The analysis is aimed at finding a balance or compromise between military and community needs so that both can grow successfully,” states the project’s website.

The JLUS project is expected to be completed in 13 to 15 months, according to the release.

The study will produce a set of guidelines and recommendations, according to the project website, and will offer an implementation plan.