Fort Stewart was approved in its request for Bryan County’s endorsement on the submittal of an application to the Georgia Land Conservation Program for the property owned by Moe Gill on Cartertown Road.
County Administrator Phil Jones said the grant will be used to purchase Gill’s development rights on the 60-acre Cartertown property.
"In other words, for the grant funds, Mr. Gill gives up the right to develop the land. He continues to own the property, can continue to farm the land and can continue to grow and harvest trees," Jones said. "I think this is the best of worlds for the county and Mr. Gill. It protects the boundary of Fort Stewart from development pressure; protects the military training area from residential intrusion; reduces potential complaints from residents that might have built homes in this area; and Mr. Gill gets paid for giving up development rights."
Gill could not be reached for comment at press time and it was unclear how much the grant was for. Fort Stewart Sustainability Program Specialist Bob Marshall said they received a grant from the Georgia Land Conservation Program with Liberty County as an eligible applicant at the end of January.
"Right after that, this second opportunity arose in Bryan County," Marshall said. "This is in support of our Army Compatible Use Buffer Program and the protection of land around the installation for both conservation purposes and strategic values."
Commissioner Rick Gardner said the grant program is one of the things the county’s been working for.
"This is a very good thing for my district and I would love to encourage each and every property owner to take a look at this and see if they can support it," Gardner said.
Gardner said impact and sound surveys have been going on at installations nationwide, in an attempt to find out what kind of effects bases are having on surrounding communities.
Gardner said there is some funding provided by the federal government for land to be placed under conservation use. The government uses the funds to purchase a property’s development rights and Gardner said he thought it was generally around 60-80 percent of the property value.
"The land then becomes zoned for agriculture or light industrial," he said. "This program aims to avoid having a whole bunch of houses and condos near a military installation."
Gardner said the program should create a situation where the land on Cartertown will remain compatible with what’s going on at Ft. Stewart and won’t be impacted by noise pollution from the base.
"If we keep closing up the land around the base, they’ll be more people complaining about it being there," Gardner said. "One day, the government might say it’s no longer worth having it and shut it down. I’m not certain we could handle that $3.1 billion loss in our area."