Long County commissioners heard an update report on the proposed Townsend Bombing Range expansion project at their October meeting.
Alice Howard, the Community Plans and Liaison director for the Marine Corps Air Station, informed the commissioners that the amount of land under consideration for the expansion had been reduced. The project plans initially included adding as many as 51,000 acres to the range, according to Howard, but now the most to be considered is 37,000 acres.
She said there are three possible amounts that could be used: adding a minimum of 12,000 acres, adding 25,000 acres or adding both of those amounts for a total of 37,000 acres.
Howard said the range expansion is necessary for training on precision-guided munitions.
The range currently accommodates 43 percent of the training requirements, but with the expansion, the range could accommodate up to 93 percent of the requirements, she added.
Howard said the project still is in the research phase and that information still is being gathered.
Regarding public input, she said 148 people from the area — including 55 people from Long County — had provided written commentary on the expansion.
Howard said there will be more opportunities in the future for the public to offer input.
Commission Chairman Bobby Walker said that even though 12,000 acres had been taken out of consideration for the project, the community needed to be aware that this land was designated back to the state, not the county. For this reason, the county still would not receive any tax revenue from the land.
Regarding payment in lieu of taxes, Commissioner Wallace Shaw said that due to the unpredictable future, it would better benefit the county if it received a lump-sum payment rather than a long-term payment process.
Howard said an initial proposed draft should be ready for the public to consider sometime in 2012 and that the earliest timeframe for a final decision would be in spring 2013. She said the earliest that land purchases would begin is late 2013 or early ’14.
In other business:
• Chairman Bobby Walker voiced displeasure over Sound off comments in a recent issue of the Courier. Walker said there was a Sound off comment regarding home sales — that when a sale took place, the county received taxes on that sale twice. He said that was inaccurate and he felt he should clarify that.
• Commissioners approved a proclamation recognizing Nov. 6 as Retired Educators Day.
• Commissioners extended the county’s contract for trash disposal with Southland Waste Systems.
• Commissioners discussed implementing a gun ordinance in the county but did not come to an agreement on the issue. The matter was tabled until the November meeting.