Community at a Glance:
Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield are the home of the 3rd Infantry Division, and combine to be the Army''s Premier Power Projection Platform on the Atlantic Coast. The combined 284,923 acres make it the largest base east of the Mississippi River. The four-county area in cooperation with its 12 municipalities have formed the Fort Stewart Growth Management Partnership to foster economic growth and to promote the general welfare of the region. Through the Partnership, the region has a process to find collaborative solutions to issues that impact across jurisdictional boundaries. The four-county region is expected to face impacts as a result of the projected growth of the military, the Army and Fort Stewart.
The region has experienced consistent historical growth and projects a population of more than 136,000 people in 2010. Increases in troop strength and training levels will generate additional development impacts in the surrounding communities, most of which are rural and facing financial struggles.
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Top Growth Challenges
Installation at a Glance
- Provisions for health care, social services, and law enforcement
- Utility service capacity
Personnel Baseline and Growth Projection
||Projection (2013) |
The population of the southeast Georgia region is unlike other defense communities. While most installations are located in areas of modest populations and services, the Hinesville-Fort Stewart metropolitan statistical area ranks among the smallest areas in the Country. Given the comparative size this defense community is more sensitive to population fluctuations than larger regions.
In December 2007, the announcement that a new brigade combat team would be formed and stationed at Fort Stewart prompted a local effort to support the expected 3,433 new soldiers. In June 2009, the new team was rescinded. Planning consultants have been engaged to analyze the economic impacts of the June 2009 announcement to measure the expenditures of the local community made in anticipation of the new brigade.
The City of Hinesville and Liberty County initiated the early stages of planning for a community response to the military growth. This expanded to a coordinated meeting with the community leaders of Bryan, Long, and Tattnall counties along with Fort Stewart, subsequently evolving into the Fort Stewart Growth Management Partnership.
The Partnership consists of one representative from each county and city in the region along with the Fort Stewart Deputy Garrison Commander and a representative of the Georgia Military Affairs Commission. The staff of the Partnership consists of a project Director and an Assistant Director. The Partnership conducted regular meetings in preparation of the regional planning effort and continues to do so. The Office of Economic Adjustment approved a request for support in December 2008 and recently amended that request to reflect the current staffing level and revised scope of work.
The Fort Stewart Growth Management Partnership directs the activities and work products through management of the project staff. The Partnership is comprised of the top elected official in each county/city within the study area. The Technical Task Force is comprised of the chief administrative official in each of the local governments. The Technical Task force will review the work products and make recommendations to the Partnership. The Advisory Committee consists of the volunteers working in a sub-committee format to provide guidance and feedback for the consultant and staff. The Advisory Committee members are key stakeholders in the region including government staffs, school boards, developers and realtors, social services providers, environmental interests, planning and zoning directors, transportation planners, local commissioners, and interested citizens. The project consultants work under the direction of the Director. Implementation and Partnering Strategies
A project needs assessment is under development. The available planning documents, completed for individual communities and local conditions serve as the basis for indentifying the challenges and as the baseline for the regional plan.
One challenge the region faces is transportation. Traffic congestion around the installation creates long queues on major roadways during peak commute time periods. Further growth will place increased stress on these major corridors and adjacent arterials as well as the installation ingress/egress points, exacerbating this condition.
A second challenge will be the provisions of healthcare, social services, and law enforcement. Service providers are strained to meet the demands of the current populations with already declining revenues (a national issue) and the local economy. Implementing solutions to manage additional growth will require innovative solutions and assistance from regional, state and federal agencies to overcome.
Additional growth requires additional capacity in the utility systems to manage that growth. Many of the region’s communities possess aging systems and undersized components that lack the ability to deliver increased service levels to meet projected demands and service standards without completing major improvements.
In order to meet the requirements of the incoming personnel, the Partnership coordinates regular meetings with the Deputy Garrison Commander and is working to establish relationships with other Garrison support offices. The Partnership, through coordination with the local planning office, coordinates with the State DOT planning and program managers. In addition, the Partnership has secured assistance through OEA to complete the regional growth management plan, which will identify future gaps in service and define implementation strategies to meet those needs.
The Partnership has completed the RFP process and selected EDAW as the lead consultant for the Regional Growth Plan. Work on the economic impact element began in August 2009.
The Partnership has organized more than 110 community volunteers engaged in sub-committees for each of the elements of the plan and will begin the topic specific work with those