Gov. Scott to Decide Future of Land Near NSA PC

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BAY COUNTY-- Governor Rick Scott expected to sign a bill soon that would take a nearly $3 million piece of land off the Bay County Commissioners' hands.

The property shares a fence with the Naval Support Activity Panama City.

In 2010, The Bay County Commissioners bought the 8.8 acre property to prevent encroachment on the NSA PC after the Bay Defense Alliance identified the land as a potential threat.

"We were able to acquire the back 8 acres with a state grant, but we could not acquire the front," said Tom Neubauer, Bay Defense Alliance President .

If development around the base were to continue, NSA could be required to move.

That would cost hundreds of thousands of local jobs.

County commissioners stepped up and bought the land for $2.9 million.

This was done in hopes that one day the navy would buy it.

"The Bay Defense Alliance came to us and they asked us to pay for it and hold it for the federal government. The navy base wanted it, but didn't have the funds to buy it at the time," said Mike Thomas, Bay Co. Commissioner.

"Timing is everything in this case and Bay County jumped in at just the right time acquired the property knowing we where working very hard to get some state funding to reimburse them," Neubauer said.

However, with the latest federal cuts, the chances that the navy base can purchase the land the land is slim.

Now the state plans to buy the it from commissioners.

"The governor sees the priority of ensuring that these lands and these base-buffering issues are protected and encroachment of our instillation are being respected," said Jimmy Patronis, State Representative.

Experts say the move will save jobs and secure the future of the base.

"The legislator actually stepped up and will be funding it this legislative session. In addition to the legislator funding it it's also part of the GI Bill that Governor Scott will be signing this Monday at the Armory," Rep. Patronis said.

State leaders hope the bill will make Florida more military friendly.