WJTV News Channel 12 - Hofmann Forest buyer says no development planned, despite docume

Hofmann Forest buyer says no development planned, despite document

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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -

Training ground or golf course? There are a lot of different options possible for the 80,000 acre Hofmann Forest in Onslow and Jones counties.

There's also been some confusion about what the land's new owner wants to do with it.

North Carolina State University owns the forest, but now there's fear that the soon-to-be new owner of the forest will convert the land into a golf course community with more than 10,000 homes.

"Any effort on the part of the Hofmann Forest LLC to develop it beyond conservation projects, timber, and military use, would obviously have us concerned," said Nat Fahy, Camp Lejeune spokesperson.

Camp Lejeune, along with Marine Corps Air Station New River, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, and Seymour Johnson Air Force, use the forest as a training ground.

"To do point-to-point navigation, low altitude flight maneuvers, and low visibility training with night vision goggles," said Fahy.

A 22-page document surfaced earlier this week, laying out the possible uses of forest, including the idea of a golfing community.

9 On Your Side reached out to the company that's buying the forest to find out what their development plans really are.

"We have no plans to develop Hofmann Forest for any commercial or residential ventures," said Tom Percival, a spokesperson for Hofmann Forest, LLC, the company that is planning to buy the forest. "The development plans contained in the document are renderings that were done by NC State University four years ago as an exploratory study."

Onslow County spokesperson Todd Lyman says despite the reassurance, he's not entirely convinced.

"We plan to thoroughly review the document and consult with military counterparts," said Lyman. "We can't overstate the value of Hofmann Forest to the region, to the state, and to the national self defense."

Lyman says the loss of Hofmann forest would be drastic, something the present and future owner of the land promise to prevent.

The future owner of the forest met with Camp Lejeune officials Thursday reassuring them of their commitment.

A spokesperson for NC State University, Brad Bohlander, says both sides signed a sales agreement that says the buyer will use the forest for timber production and agriculture, as well as for research and military use.

University officials announced last month they would sell the forest for $150 million dollars, citing assurances the company owned by Illinois agri-businessman Jerry Walker would preserve the environmentally sensitive land.
    
Hofmann is home to large populations of black bears and rare Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes.

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