Camp Lejeune officials said that they are building 800 additional single-family homes on base. Some business owners and Jacksonville city leaders fear that move, along with the future down-sizing of the Marine Corps, will hurt the local economy.
"We do not want to build a house for every family that comes to Camp Lejeune," said Capt. Craig Fulton, the Director of Facilities and Environment aboard Camp Lejeune. "We want them to use the local services, local community, and the houses off-base."
Fulton said the plans for the additional homes were drawn up in 2010. At that time, Fulton states that approximately 1,400 Marine families were waiting to move on base.
"We just want to accommodate those families who prefer to live on base," said Fulton, who added that 75% of service members choose to live off base.
Fulton, who stated that the Corps will be reducing its fighting force by 8,000 Marines, explained that the fear is unoccupied homes on and off the base. "While we were building new houses on base," Fulton said, "they were building apartments, town houses, single-family homes off-base."
Jacksonville Deputy City Manager Ron Massey acknowledged the base housing expansion is a problem for some. "It's certainly a concern for people that have developed subdivisions and have a number of lots that they want to sell," said Massey.
Massey said the city was going to focus on making Jacksonville the perfect setting for the base. "If we are successful in making this base a very good base for the military," said Massey, "then there's a possibility that some other personnel will move from other bases to this base."
Like Massey, Alex Smith, a CENTURY 21 real estate agent has remained optimistic. Smith, a Jacksonville native, said that the city is a great place to live and a top destination for many. "We have a lot of families coming to retire in the area and great school districts," said Smith.
Fulton said communication with the residents of Onslow County is a priority. "We will always have to be talking," said Fulton. "We have to be sharing our plans because what we do on base effects the community, what the community does, effects us."
This current batch of new on-base homes will be the last for some time, according to Fulton.