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New post housing area for officers, NCOs
Chief Warrant Officer Christian Hazel, his wife Angela and their three children, Jared, 12, Katie, 8, and Tyler, 6, cut a cake during the groundbreaking Tuesday for Marne View on Fort Stewart. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge
In an effort to give redeploying soldiers housing they and their families will be happy to call home, Fort Stewart and Balfour Beatty Communities broke ground Wednesday on a new neighborhood, Marne View. The new development will consist of 92 homes for officers. In addition, 24 new homes for non-commissioned officers will be built in the New Marne development. Marne View is scheduled for completion in November 2011 and the 24 homes in New Marne will be ready for occupancy in July 2011. The estimated cost for the new post housing is $24 million.
Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said providing quality housing for troops and their families helps strengthen the Army by helping soldiers focus on their mission. If soldiers and their dependents are taken care of, it’s less distraction for the troops, he said.
Kingston also said he has been working to bring more troops to Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield in the aftermath of the Defense Department’s cancellation of a fifth brigade last year. He’s been speaking with Army Sec. John McHugh and Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of Installation Management Command. 
“Fort Stewart has the capacity to grow,” the congressman said. And, area communities have prepared the way to receive additional troops, he added.
“We’re in a state of constant construction,” garrison commander Col. Kevin Milton said. Milton said 98 new housing units will also be built at Hunter starting in the next few months.
Last year, bulldozers tore down substandard family housing on post. Marne Terrace, as it was called, had been the source of a multitude of complaints. Balfour Beatty Communities took over Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield’s 2,926 aging housing units in November 2003. In seven years the company has built 1,449 new housing units, renovated 1,330 existing homes and has demolished 698 old homes, said Mark Lavin, Balfour Beatty Communities senior vice president. 
During the 3rd Infantry Division’s first deployment in 2003, post housing had only a 40 percent occupancy rate, Lavin said. This past deployment, 70-80 percent of post housing was occupied.
Military families seem more inclined to stay (during deployments) when they are provided quality housing, he said.
Lavin, who spent 25 years in the Army, said he experienced some “substandard” housing during his military career.
“To be able to change that is truly remarkable,” he said. Lavin said improving military housing gives him “a sense of giving back.”
Balfour Beatty oversees housing on 16 Army installations, 20 Navy bases and 12 Air Force bases, Lavin said.
Chief Warrant Officer Christian Hazel and his wife, Angela, have lived in post housing on a number of installations over Hazel’s 18-year Army career. The couple and their three children currently live in older post housing slated to be torn down. They hope to “get on the list” for the new Fort Stewart housing.
Their housing unit’s lack of space and constant maintenance are issues, Angela Hazel said.
 “We have a four bedroom in 1200 square feet,” her husband added.
The new Marne View’s three and four bedroom duplex homes will feature open floor plans, two and a half baths, spacious walk-in closets, ceiling fans, covered porches and two car garages, according to a written release from Balfour Beatty Communities. Three playgrounds also will be built in the new housing area.
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