Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River are located in Onslow County and near the City of Jacksonville. MCAS Cherry Point is located 50 miles east-northeast of MCB Camp Lejeune in the City of Havelock. This region of North Carolina has experienced significant military growth resulting from the following Department of Defense actions that began in 2007: the establishment of the Marine Corps Special Operation Command at MCB Camp Lejeune and the Marine Corps Grow the Forces Initiative. These actions have resulted in a net gain of more than 14,000 new military and civilian jobs across the three installations and within the eastern region.
In January 2008, community leaders formed the Military Growth Task Force to plan for and mitigate the community impacts resulting from this unprecedented military growth. The Task Force comprises seven counties potentially affected and falls under the auspices of North Carolina's Eastern Region, a state-chartered economic development organization. Through technical and financial support from the Office of Economic Adjustment, the Task Force completed a preliminary assessment of the potential community impacts resulting from the expansion in mission growth and military presence. This assessment was followed by a study, which resulted in the development and adoption of a regional growth management plan (RGMP). The plan highlights specific impacts in the areas of transportation, healthcare and social services, water resources, and communications, as well as a status update on recommendations from previous joint land use studies conducted for MCB Camp Lejeune and MCAS Cherry Point. In addition, the plan includes 467 specific recommendations to ameliorate impacts in the affected areas.
Among the most significant findings of the RGMP were challenges associated with increased road use, such as accident and traffic fatality rates, lengthened commutes, and reduced emergency vehicle response times. Particularly troublesome is the traffic in the host military communities near the gates of the installations. The Task Force partnered with host communities, their Metropolitan Planning Organizations, county planners, the military installations, and transportation consultants to produce transportation demand management plans for both the cities of Jacksonville and Havelock. The objective of the plans is to arrive at realistic and implementable joint (civilian-military) actions that will reduce the number of single-occupant vehicle trips on and off the bases.
Recognizing the necessity of regional collaboration, the Task Force recently facilitated the formulation of a regional planning partnership that would seek consensus-based solutions to the region’s growth challenges and continue to carry out the recommendations from the regional growth management plan well beyond the life of the Task Force. This partnership, known as PlanIT EAST, consists of delegates from all seven of the Task Force member counties as well as representatives from MCB Camp Lejeune, MCAS Cherry Point, and Marine Corps Installations East. In addition, membership to the partnership was extended to representatives from Wayne and Lenoir counties and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, which also are a major part of the military mission footprint in eastern North Carolina.
In addition to the successes achieved thus far, the Task Force recently launched an initiative, "Food and Fuel for the Forces" to help preserve working lands in the region by adding value to the area's agricultural productivity, while at the same time preventing incompatible development near the military installations and supporting the military's renewable energy mandates. The objective of this initiative is to support the development of robust bio-fuels and local food distribution industries in eastern North Carolina. Through the support of local public and private partners, the Task Force's initial year test program successfully produced and delivered 800 gallons of locally produced bio-diesel to MCB Camp Lejeune in the summer of 2011.
To view the community's 2009 Mission Growth Profile, click here.