Stewart County residents want answers from Fort Benning - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Stewart County residents want answers from Fort Benning

LUMPKIN, GA (WTVM) -

82,000 acres: that is how much land Fort Benning may be acquiring from Stewart County.

Fort Benning officials thought the next steps in choosing whether or not to purchase the acres would have been more clear by now.  Instead, they are dealing with a delay in the process. 

Robert Patterson's family has called Stewart County home since the 1800s.  For about five months, he and others have been waiting to find out if 82 thousand acres of land in their community will be taken over by Fort Benning.

"Land values are just plummeting because of the indecision.  No one would buy in here knowing that this land may be taken by the Army.  People don't know how to invest.  They don't know what to do with their business," said Patterson.

Fort Benning sits on about 182,000 acres of land but needs more for training ground.  That is why the Army installation is considering acquiring up to 82,000 acres in Stewart County.

Fort Benning has said it could take all the land, less, or none at all.  However, officials say they cannot make those decisions just yet because the future of the Army force structure and budget is unclear.

In a press release Colonel Jeffrey Fletcher stated, "We recognize that folks in the communities around Fort Benning are anxious for a decision and for a resolution, but we owe it to all of them to select the best course of action,"

"For Stewart County to prosper, Fort Benning needs to say we're not coming to Stewart County, not now, not ever," said Stewart County Schools Superintendent Floyd Fort.

Fort says he is disappointed they do not have an answer yet.

"There's a dark cloud hanging over Stewart County.  No one will make any moves.  People need roofs on their houses and they are really apprehensive to do that because they don't want to invest money in their home and then Fort Benning take it," said

However, Col.. Fletcher said, "The reality is that we just don't have enough information to make a good decision about training land expansion at this time."

Fort Benning officials say they want people to know they have heard the community's concerns and will carefully consider your feedback.  

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