Encroachment effort turns to area between North Davis Drive and Ga. 247

wcrenshaw@macon.comAugust 15, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- An effort to reduce the number of residential houses near Robins Air Force Base has turned its attention to an area off North Davis Drive.

In the past week, owners of 200 parcels received notices from the Central Georgia Joint Development Authority that the state is interested in buying their properties. The authority acts as the initial point of contact on the purchasing while the Georgia Department of Natural Resources actually does the buying.

The area is between North Davis Drive and Ga. 247, from Tabor Drive to Bargain Road.

Referred to as encroachment, the aim of the effort is to reduce residential density in an area determined to be at risk for crashes and high noise levels from aircraft.

Previously the effort has been focused on an area north of the base, where 250 parcels were targeted for purchases. About 150 of those have been purchased, and all have been voluntary.

Chan Layson, who spearheaded that effort, said that is enough of a reduction in population density to satisfy the Department of Defense requirements for encroachment. There is enough money left now, he said, to look at the area off North Davis Drive.

The North Davis Drive area isn’t considered as high of a priority, he said.

“If they want to sell that’s fine, and if they don’t want to sell, that’s fine, too,” Layson said.

The letter asks homeowners to call if they are interested in selling.

Daniel Cummings, who is the authority’s initial contact for the buying of the North Davis Drive properties, said the letters sent out in the past week are to gauge interest.

Many properties in the area are blighted or abandoned, and Cummings said the effort potentially could improve the neighborhood.

Warner Robins Councilman Daron Lee, whose district includes the area, agrees.

“Anything we can do to address blight as well as strengthen our partnership with the base would be good,” he said.

Layson said the purchasing effort is still underway on the north end of the base, but most of those left now are not willing sellers.

Local leaders have long cited resolving the encroachment issue as important for the base, which is a critical consideration in the event of a Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The Air Force’s two other maintenance depots, Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma and Hill Air Force Base in Utah, have both resolved their encroachment issues.

The Central Georgia Joint Development Authority is a part of the Middle Georgia Regional Commission.

“I believe the Regional Commission has a holistic approach to encroachment, and I applaud their efforts that are currently underway,” said retired Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon, president of the 21st Century Partnership. The partnership works to protect the base in the event of a BRAC and to help it get new missions.

The encroachment properties are being purchased with a mixture of federal, state and local sales tax dollars.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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