Navy releases report on Earle
Possible routes to housing
BY NINA RIZZO • FREEHOLD BUREAU • NOVEMBER 29, 2008
COLTS NECK — The Navy published a report Friday on the environmental impact of four potential routes from Route 34 to
a proposed civilian housing complex at Naval Weapons Station Earle. The authors did not suggest a preferred option or offer
any cost estimates.
The draft environmental impact statement was required in order for the Navy to fulfill its contractual obligation to allow a
developer to rent 300 units in the Laurelwood housing complex to civilians, beginning around April 2010.
The Navy entered into a contract with Laurelwood Homes LLC in 1988 to build a town house complex on the ammunition
base. The units are reserved for military families until 2010. Then, they can be rented to the general public for the next 30
years. The developer must demolish the homes at the end of the lease period.
Under the agreement, the Navy must provide "unimpeded access" to the housing by providing an easement between the
highway and the housing. The Navy will build a fence around Laurelwood housing and the entire length of the access road to
securely separate civilians from the installation. The developer will construct the road at its own expense.
The report ruled out the "no action" alternative because it failed to satisfy one of the criteria for an acceptable solution — the
choice must meet the contractual obligation of the 52-year lease agreement, according to the report.
The other criteria mandated that the chosen route provide tenants with safe access to their homes, which the report says all
four routes will do without inflicting significant damage to the surrounding ecosystems. There would be, however, nearly 2
acres of impervious coverage over groundwater aquifer, some habitat loss and restriction of animal movement due to the
The routes also cannot compromise Earle's mission or security, which, the report says, they do not. "Impacts to security from
the proposed action are not anticipated," the report states.
The report was sketchy when it came to costs. The only hard figures pertained to the amount of money the construction
phase would generate. The figures range from about $10 million and 46 temporary jobs to $26 million and 166 temporary
"The Draft Environmental Impact Statement does absolutely nothing to allay our profound concerns over Laurelwood," Rep.
Christopher H. Smith, R-N.J., said in an e-mail statement. "Opening Laurelwood to unvetted civilian renters is a bad deal for
the taxpayer, our local communities and the Navy itself. It is time to pull the plug on this extraordinarily dangerous and ill-
Those who have been critical of the civilian housing plan said they need more time to review the hefty document, which was
released online at www.laurelwoodeis.com and to local libraries Friday.
"It's an extremely large document, and we have not yet had chance to read it," Diana Piotrowski, a spokeswoman for
Neighbors Opposed to Privatization at Earle, said Friday afternoon.
NOPE suggested the privatization plan could cost taxpayers more than $61 million over the lifetime of the contract.
A public hearing on the environmental impact statement will be held at Monmouth Regional High School in Tinton Falls on
Dec. 16. The time has not yet been decided.
Scott S. Kalbach, a spokesman for Earle, has said this round of public comment will be incorporated into the final report.
That document will be given to Navy officers charged with making the final decision, which is expected to be announced in