05/20/04 — Bill would set up fund to buy land around base

View Archive

Bill would set up fund to buy land around base

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on May 20, 2004 2:02 PM

The N.C. General Assembly may establish a $5 million fund to buy undeveloped land around the state's military bases, including Seymour Johnson.

Identical bills were introduced Wednesday in the N.C. House and Senate to establish the Military Base Land Preservation Fund.

The sponsors included Rep. Louis Pate of Mount Olive, Sen. John Kerr of Goldsboro, and Sen. Tony Moore of Greenville.

The bills stand a good chance of passage if legislators consider how much money the bases pump into the state, Pate said today. "If they realize the impact, they'll support it, and I hope they will."

Buying undeveloped land around bases accomplishes two things, said Jimmie Edmundson, a Goldsboro executive with BB&T who's a member of both the Seymour Support Council and the Governor's Commission on Military Affairs.

First, it protects the military installations from homes, businesses and other construction that might hamper training, he said.

Encroachment is an issue at all of the state's military bases, he noted, adding that Fort Bragg has recently had to shut down one of its drop zones because of nearby development.

Second, it allows people with land near the bases to sell their property and reinvest their money elsewhere, he said.

"I think it's a wonderful idea, and I applaud the General Assembly for considering it," said Edmundson.

If the bills pass as drafted, the fund would be established this summer in the state treasurer's office. The legislature would make an initial deposit of $5 million for the next fiscal year. Later contributions would be made as part of the budgeting process.

The governor and legislative leaders would appoint a 13-member board of directors to consider land acquisitions.

The bills call for the board to consider the "military value" of land. That term refers to the potential for development to affect military training or readiness, both now and in the future.

The directors could also consider buying land to keep development out of high-noise areas and those with higher potential for accidents.