Sussex County has purchased more than 17 acres of land in the Inland Bays watershed to protect it from future development and preserve it as open space.
County Administrator Todd Lawson announced during the July 28 Sussex County Council meeting that the county has purchased a 17.5-acre parcel near Angola, wedged between the Sarah Run and Chapel Branch waterways off Route 24. The waterways feed into Herring Creek, a tributary of the Inland Bays.
The county purchased the property from the Dickson and Riley families for approximately $970,000, using funds from realty transfer taxes already collected and budgeted. It is the latest effort by county officials to build the area’s open space inventory, often in partnerships, either through the purchase of development rights or by buying land outright.
“There is a lot of concern out there about development in Sussex County, and for good reason,” said Councilman Doug Hudson, whose district includes the parcel. “This shows the county is listening, balancing the rights of property owners to sell or develop their parcels, while recognizing and doing something about the public’s desire for more open space.”
The property sits at a critical place within the watershed, serving as the entry point for water that filters into the Inland Bays. The county sought the assistance of the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays in identifying and recommending strategically located parcels that would benefit the waterways most by being protected, Lawson said. The property will remain in agricultural production for the time being, with any other use to be determined at a later date.
The announcement created a rash of comments from members of the grassroots Sussex 2030 organization, which includes several members who live in the Angola area.
Group founder Eul Lee said, “Councilmen Hudson and Burton recognized the ecological value of this land and pursued it to preserve it from potential subdivision or even commercial development. We do not know what the county plans to do with this beautiful parcel, but it is another win for those who have fought the 7-Eleven on the east part of this land. Congratulations on another achievement toward preserving this beautiful Sussex County.”
Sussex officials have also partnered with the City of Lewes and the Lewes Board of Public Works to acquire and preserve the 37.5-acre Jones Farm at the corner of Kings Highway and Clay Road, just outside Lewes city limits.
Sussex County and Lewes BPW will contribute $2 million each to the purchase, with the City of Lewes offering $1.5 million. The property owner, J.G. Townsend Jr. & Co., is trimming more than $1.5 million off the original selling price, with the property appraised at $7.1 million.