Fort Indiantown Gap neighbors angered by plan to acquire land

A number of land owners around Fort Indiantown Gap are balking at a plan to buy up some residential property.

Two weeks ago, abc27 detailed how the Gap is looking to provide a safety buffer zone for new bullets that will ricochet farther.

Ideally, the Gap would buy the land in an amicable agreement, but could resort to forcing a sale through eminent domain.

There are 17 parcels of land under consideration and 16 land owners. One of them is Doug Swonger and he is not happy that the government is looking at 57 acres of his land.

“It angers me. And my father’s 83 years old and he can’t take this,” Swonger said. “He has the land in trust for all his kids and grand kids.”

Some residents say they can’t help but feel they’re being bullied.

“We’re just working Joes,” property owner Al Reiner said. “You work all your life to try to retire and enjoy and then all of a sudden they come to you and say you don’t need three acres of it.”

For Al Reiner and Mike Stewart, selling the land will increase their taxes. It will drop them below the 10 acres needed to get tax relief under the Clean and Green program.

“We’ll pay $800 to $1,000 a year more in taxes because it’s not considered Clean and Green,” Stewart said.

What really gets these homeowners is that it doesn’t appear as if officials at the Gap are interested in any other solution.

“Anybody knows that if you put a pile of ground behind a target area you’re going to stop your bullets from ricocheting,” Swonger said.

“They never talked about moving it, moving it back, turning it on angles,” Stewart said. “They’re just taking our land.”

“I’m not going down without a fight,” Reiner said. “If it comes to a court case, it will be in court. I’m not giving up my land. I worked too hard for it.”

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