MILTON — A local home builder is continuing to work with the Santa Rosa County Commission to donate land around NAS Whiting Field to help protect the base from future encroachment.
Edwin Henry, owner of UIL Family Limited Partnership, first donated 240 acres near Whiting Field to Santa Rosa County last year and just recently donated another 100 acres.
"It looks s like a win for everyone," said Commissioner Don Salter.
Henry is not finished donating land to Santa Rosa County either. In 2020, he plans to donate another 200 acres near NAS Whiting Field, another 100 acres in 2021 and a final donation of 110 acres in 2022, for a total of 750 acres.
As part of his agreement to donate the property, the commission has voted to rezone the property from agriculture to residential to give Henry a better tax break. He will get a tax break ever year he donates land to the county.
Acquiring land around NAS Whiting Field to protect the base from future encroachment has been one of Salter's priorities for the past 16 years. In that time, about 8,000 acres around the base has been secured by the county, state and federal government and Santa Rosa County has been recognized by the Navy for its efforts to protect Whiting Field from nearby future growth.
"As grantors Santa Rosa County guarantees conservation protection of these lands in perpetuity," Salter said. "The land will be preserved as it is, prime property for long leaf pine."
"It's in the best interest for the community," Salter said.
Henry could not be reached for comment on this story.