06/11/04 — State Senate passes military bill

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State Senate passes military bill

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on June 11, 2004 1:59 PM

North Carolina's military bases would be better protected from development under a proposal that gained the state Senate's final approval Thursday.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Kerr, D-Wayne, would allow three trust funds to borrow money to buy and preserve sensitive lands around parks and military installations.

The Governor's Advisory Commission on Military Affairs recommended last year that the state do more to protect the military from encroachment by keeping homes and businesses away from gunnery ranges and aircraft flight paths.

"We have heard from military leaders that too much growth and encroachment threatens their ability to perform their mission," said Kerr, whose Senate district includes Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

"This bill allows us to help our military and preserve some of the natural places that make North Carolina so special."

Kerr's bill would allow the Clean Water Management Trust Fund to issue up to $350 million in debt; the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, $105 million in debt; and the National Heritage Trust Fund, $65 million. The money would be repaid through resources from existing taxes and specialized license plate revenues.

The city of Goldsboro and Wayne County are seeking $1.7 million from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund to buy 500 acres near Seymour Johnson to help prevent threats to civilians during F-15E Strike Eagle practice flights.

"North Carolina is proud to be the most military-friendly state in the country," said Kerr. "Making sure the land around our bases won't be swallowed up by development will help protect our military facilities during the next round of federal base closings."