Fort Benning: A noisy neighbor?

Fort Benning Study Areas and Alternatives (Click on image to expand)
Fort Benning Study Areas and Alternatives (Click on image to expand)
Land Expansion Program Study Areas (Click on image to expand)
Land Expansion Program Study Areas (Click on image to expand)

By Mackenzie Patterson - bioemail

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Thursday was one of Fort Benning's hands-on training exercises.  It was a chance for soldiers to practice skills they may have to use in the battlefield. 

While Fort Benning is looking at buying more land around the Valley, some communities are worried the blasting will be a nuisance.

[Read: Fort Benning narrows expansion to five sites]

[See also:
Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Training Land Expansion]

For Mary Neil, hearing the sounds of tanks and gunshots from Fort Benning in the comfort of her own home is annoying.

"Jumping out of your sleep at night is not nice.  Sometimes, I'm thinking, 'Well is the house breaking down or something like that,'" said Neil.

Neil said she has owned her home on Chattsworth Road for about 7 years.  She told News Leader 9 she was the first in this neighborhood but did not know how noisy her future and her neighborhood's future would be. 

"I will see people, I will see all the houses built and people gradually moving in.  So, I am sure they too if they had known about it this would not have happened.  We wouldn't buy a place here.  I thought this would be a more quiet area."

Neil and her neighbors may not be alone for long.  Fort Benning is looking to buy a little more than 82,000 acres of land in either Harris, Talbot, Marion, or Stewart County in Georgia or Russell County in Alabama for more training grounds.  Representatives from Fort Benning have been traveling around these communities presenting their ideas and answering residents questions and concerns.  Deputy Garrison Commander George Steuber says they want to hear what the communities have to say good and bad.

"I think we're really appreciative of all the people coming out, providing us with the comments.  You know their comments help us do a better job in addressing all the concerns of the community that surrounds us," said Steuber.

Before the new land is bought, this Columbus homeowner wants a compromise.

"It happens less often or if the noise if it could be lowered.  We would be grateful because I don't think people would buy their houses here and just want to get up and leave it like that," said Neil.

Fort Benning said studies of the different land sites are ongoing before a final decision can be made.

Real estate experts will gather more information on land ownership and environmental teams will look at possible hazardous waster contamination, and the presence of endangered or threatened species.

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