Sussex County buys land in Inland Bays watershed

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Sussex County has purchased several acres of land in the Inland Bays watershed to protect it from future development, preserving it as open space.

County Administrator Todd F. Lawson announced during the County Council meeting Tuesday, July 28 that the County has purchased more than 17.5 acres near Angola, wedged between the Sarah’s Run and Chapel Branch waterways just off John J. Williams Highway. 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, with money coming through realty transfer taxes already collected and budgeted.

It is the latest effort by county government 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 County 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 is 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 non-profit Center for the Inland Bays in identifying and recommending parcels that were strategic in their location, and would benefit the waterways most by protecion, Lawson said. The property will remain in agricultural production for the time being, with any future use to be determined at a later date.

The county has been under fire for years for what critics claimed was runaway development that endangered wildlife habitat and watersheds.

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