By Joyce May

Killeen Daily Herald

COPPERAS COVE – The formality of authorizing the city to facilitate a proposed land exchange between Fort Hood and the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation is complete, so now the entities involved are waiting on the necessary engineering work and an act of Congress to finalize the deal.

The Copperas Cove City Council on Tuesday unanimously authorized City Manager Steve Alexander to enter into an agreement with the CCEDC for the city to handle the exchange.

"This is one of the necessary steps in acquiring property from Fort Hood, one we can go ahead and take care of now," said Dan Yancey, CCEDC board chairman.

The CCEDC has purchased the land near West Fort Hood; the agreement is to deed that land over to the city to use as its part in the swap with Fort Hood, which is required to conduct such transactions with a governmental body.

The agreement further states that the city will deed the Fort Hood property to the economic development corporation, said Monica Hull, CCEDC marketing director.

In the value-for-value land exchange – as opposed to acre-for-acre – Fort Hood is prepared to exchange an estimated 125 acres situated on the south side of U.S. Highway 190 adjacent to the industrial park and bordered now by Rattlesnake Hill and eventually by the Texas Department of Transportation's southwest reliever route project.

The property that Copperas Cove will offer in the deal is an estimated 110 acres near West Fort Hood on Clear Creek Road and Ammo Road along Mohawk Drive.

Yancey said the next step will be to submit a request to the Fort Hood Directorate of Public Works asking the entity to request the services of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to appraise, survey and conduct environmental studies on the property the city will be offering.

CCEDC Executive Director Jerry Conner said the corporation is requesting the services of the Army Corps of Engineers at the advice of Fort Hood Public Works since it will be conducting the same services for the property Fort Hood is offering.

"It speeds everything up," Conner said.

Following the engineering work, the next step will be to receive congressional approval.

Concept approval from the Army has been received for the exchange, but Congress must approve the measure because the Army cannot conduct land deals.

U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, has said he hopes to fast-track legislation for the land exchange and have the measure through with the defense appropriations bill sometime this year or early 2008.

CCEDC has signed an option agreement with First Advisors Inc., an Austin-based developer expected to ultimately acquire up to 80 acres of the site to develop a full-scale regional, open-air retail center serving the Centroplex region.

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