Board of supervisors considering residents hunt on IP land

Published 12:13am Wednesday, September 25, 2013

NATCHEZ — While Adams County’s economic development officials hunt for potential new industry to locate on the former International Paper property, the county supervisors are considering letting others use it for hunting.

Purchased from Rentech in August, Adams County has been marketing the property to industrial prospects, and officials have stated they are in negotiations with Natchez Railway for part of the land.

But while the Adams County Board of Supervisors waits for portions — or all — of the 478-acre property to sell, residents who want to lease a portion of the property for hunting have approached board members about short-term use of a wooded section of the land.

Supervisor David Carter said the wooded portion of the property is prone to flooding but has a wildlife presence and is bordered by hunting camps on one side.

“Hunting season ends before next spring, so there’s going to be no activity on that property after then anyway,” Carter said. “If we can generate a little money right there with it now, then good.”

Supervisor Mike Lazarus said having an active hunting lease on the property could help the county because it would then have an overseer. The lease would likely require the overseer to have substantial insurance coverage, he said.

“If you don’t oversee it, someone is going to be using it anyway, and anybody who is poaching is not going to have insurance, and I would rather have somebody who has insurance on it,” Lazarus said.

Lazarus said the portion of the property in question is where the IP industrial waste water treatment facility’s discharge lines come out, adding it does not have significant potential for further development.

“That part of the property will never be used for anything but right-of-ways anyway because it is flood prone,” he said.

Board Attorney Scott Slover said he is checking to ensure the county is not prohibited from entering into a hunting lease, and he would be speaking with Natchez Inc. officials to make sure it would not curtail their marketing strategy for the land.

“We don’t want to sacrifice the main purpose of that property for a short-term gain,” he said.

When the supervisors asked Slover to look into the matter, they said the county would need to include a clause in the lease that would allow industrial development to trump the lease should the land be needed. Slover said any lease contract negotiated would include a provision for a pro-rated refund from the county to a lessee for breaking the contract.

Lazarus said once the board got the go-ahead, the land would be advertised for lease by bid.

Adams County purchased the IP property for approximately $9 million at the behest of Natchez Inc., which sought control of the industrial wastewater treatment facility on the site as an economic development-recruiting tool.

Rentech had purchased the land from International Paper in 2008 with announced plans for a coal-to-liquid fuel production facility, plans that were scrapped in 2011.