Stalnaker: Encroachment ‘will not be an issue in the coming days’

mstucka@macon.comFebruary 20, 2014 

Tommy Stalnaker

  • Map: Robins AFB Encroachment

WARNER ROBINS -- The encroachment problems of Robins Air Force Base should be cleared up in just over a year, Houston County Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker predicted Thursday.

Stalnaker told attendees at the Eggs & Issues breakfast meeting of the Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce that local communities and the state are gathering enough money to buy properties to cure the base’s problems with encroachment. Encroachment problems include homes close to the base and its flight paths, which are more at risk for crashes or noise.

“The issue will not be an issue in the coming days,” Stalnaker said.

The homes have been bought with logistical help from the Middle Georgia Regional Commission and money from the federal government, state of Georgia, and Houston, Bibb and Peach counties. All property owners have sold voluntarily, and Stalnaker said perhaps 70 percent of the needed properties have been purchased.

“I think at 70 percent, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Three years ago, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Stalnaker said during a breakfast at the Museum of Aviation.

He told The Telegraph he expected encroachment would probably be resolved by the first quarter of 2015.

Daniel Cummings, a Middle Georgia Regional Commission government services specialist, said he expects encroachment land buys largely will be complete by the end of 2014.

“I think with the amount of money we have, we can finish this. We need the money we have,” he said.

That funding includes $9.5 million from the U.S. Department of Defense, $7.5 million from Georgia, $6.2 million from Bibb County, $6.2 million from Houston County and $400,000 from Peach County.

Cummings said the regional commission, working for the Central Georgia Joint Development Authority, has bought 168 properties, and about a dozen more are pending. Those sales have been focused largely in south Bibb County, east of Ga. 247, where purchases in crash zones and higher noise areas were prioritized.

The state’s money is going through the real estate division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, with a focus along North Davis Drive in Warner Robins, a noisy area. The director of that division, Steve Friedman, said his organization hasn’t closed on any properties, but “quite a few” owners asked to be appraised.

“Things are moving. Things are going well,” he said. “We’re making traction.”

Local government officials have said encroachment is one of Robins’ largest weak spots.

Ending encroachment would help the base in another round of the Base Realignment and Closure process, known as BRAC.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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