Attorney will represent Colts Neck on Earle housing issue


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By Peter Elacqua
Staff Writer

COLTS NECK – The Township Committee has hired special counsel to represent the municipality’s interests in a situation that involves the possible housing of civilians at Naval Weapons Station Earle, portions of which are in Colts Neck.

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During a recent meeting, committee members retained attorney Brian Molloy to represent Colts Neck in its dealings with the U.S. Navy. The resolution appointing Molloy indicates the cost of his services may exceed $17,500.

Municipal officials have indicated they oppose the housing of civilians at the base.

Since 2004, Balfour Beatty Communities has owned and managed the housing on-base through a Public Private Venture partnership with the Navy, according to the Navy.

Balfour Beatty is seeking to make housing available to applicants who are single sailors, reserve service members, retired military personnel or employees of the U.S. Department of Defense, according to the Navy.

According to Colts Neck officials, Balfour Beatty is also seeking to make housing available to non-military personnel.

“The safety and security of our residents is the primary concern of the Township Committee,” Committeeman Russell Macnow said. “Allowing civilians to reside on Earle, which is the primary supplier of munitions to the Atlantic fleet, not only compromises the safety and security of Colts Neck residents, but also the men and women of the Navy who live and work on the base. For that reason, the Township Committee will do everything in its power to prevent the privatization of housing on Earle.”

NWS Earle lies in portions of several Monmouth County municipalities, including Colts Neck. Students in kindergarten through eighth grade who live on-base attend school in the Tinton Falls School District. High school age students who live on-base attend Colts Neck High School in the Freehold Regional High School District.

On Oct. 18, state Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) said she has sent formal correspondence to Gov. Chris Christie, Col. Rick Fuentes of the New Jersey State Police, Brig. Gen. Michael Cunniff of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and Director Chris Rodriguez of the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security to enlist their assistance in halting the Department of Defense’s plan to allow civilians to reside on the base.

Beck said she issued the letters after a follow-up meeting with Department of Defense and Earle representatives during which it was indicated to the state, county and local officials in attendance that they would be moving forward with the plan over the objections of local stakeholders.

“I am opposed, in the strongest possible terms, to the Navy’s plan allowing members of the general public to use Earle housing. The current proposal is a dangerous one and I will fight tirelessly against it,” Beck said.  “Earle … is no place for civilians to have regular access to. … The fact that the base’s inventory is classified should give any reasonable person cause for concern.”

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