Encroachment buying expected soon in North Davis area

wcrenshaw@macon.comNovember 17, 2013 

Encroachment

David Wright stands in his yard with his American pit bull terrier Joc on Friday at 117 Shi Street in Warner Robins. Wright’s house is located in the area the state is wanting to buy. Wright is willing to sell but has not received any offers.

JASON VORHEES/THE TELEGRAPH — jvorhees@macon.com Buy Photo

WARNER ROBINS -- The state expects in a few weeks to begin buying property off North Davis Drive as a part of an effort to reduce housing around Robins Air Force Base.

In August, the Central Georgia Joint Development Authority sent notices to about 200 property owners in an area between North Davis and Ga. 247, from Bargain Road to Tabor Drive. The area is part of a zone the Department of Defense has determined to be at risk for aircraft crashes and excessive noise.

When the notices were sent, the state called it an effort to gauge interest from the property owners. David Cummings, the authority’s initial point of contact for the purchasing effort, said about 80 property owners have expressed an interest in selling, and he expects at least some property will be purchased.

The purchasing is being handled by the Department of Natural Resources due to its experience in buying land.

Daniel Brown, project assistant for DNR’s real estate office, said he expects about 15 property owners to sign purchase options and likely more are to come. He expects the first sales to become final by the end of the year or in January.

“We have been really surprised at how many people have just initially said they were interested,” he said.

Once the purchase options are signed, the agreements must go before the DNR board for approval.

Brown said none of the trailer park owners in the area have agreed to sell.

David Wright, who owns a home in the area, said he has told the state he is willing to sell but hasn’t seen an offer.

He said he would sell “as long as they give me a fair price.”

He said he is originally from Florida and wants to sell to move back there.

The area is mostly low income with many blighted and abandoned properties. Many of the people who live there are tenants. Most interviewed this week said they were aware of the state’s land buying initiative but hadn’t been told by their landlord that a sale was taking place and that they needed to move.

Referred to as encroachment, the effort to reduce the number of people living near the base had previously focused on an area north of the runway in Bibb County. About 250 properties there were targeted, and 160 have been purchased. That effort is still ongoing, but most of those left are not willing sellers, and the money is now being used for the North Davis Drive area. Officials have said they do not need to buy all the properties in the encroachment zone and can satisfy the Department of Defense by reducing the population density.

Local leaders say resolving the encroachment issue is important to protect the base in the event of a Base Realignment and Closure Commission. A mixture of federal and state money as well as local sales tax dollars are being used to purchase the properties.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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