Sussex County Delaware

Delaware Electric Cooperative,

Sussex County Council ...

County to Spend $600K
on 43-Acre Purchase

SC Online Content Editor

GEORGETOWN -- The Sussex County Land Trust, in partnership with the Nature Conservancy, will purchase 43 acres in the Great Marsh area, north of Lewes.

The Sussex County Council unanimously agreed to spend $600,000 to buy the land off Oyster Rocks Road that will join two other parcels preserved by the Nature Conservancy and local property owners.

According to Sussex County Land Trust Director Wendy Baker, the parcels will total about 600 acres. The project is part of a $4 million effort to link the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge with Lewes' Great Marsh Preserve. "This creates a huge protected area," said Ellen Roca, director of conservation programs for the Delaware Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

The bulk of the 43-acre tract is farmland, having been planted in corn and sunflowers. One or two acres are wooded, and there is a pond on the back end of the parcel, according to Sussex County Land Trust chairman Craig Hudson. "It's a very natural-looking area," Hudson said. "There are hardly any houses anywhere around it."

Hudson said the parcel offered a good way to kick off the preservation efforts of the land trust, formed about a year ago. "This is a wonderful first project for us," he said.

The purchase leaves $400,000 on the $1 million pledged last April to the land trust by the county council. County Administrator Robert Stickels said the proposed budget for 2004 contains another $620,000 for the program.

County Council member Dale Dukes, a member of the land trust's board of directors, said, "We need to be aware that everything preserved does not have to be on the east side of the county."

Hudson replied that "we are looking for land all over the county, not just in the east. He said he hopes to be back before the council next month with a proposal to buy another parcel -- this one on the western side of the county.

The current landowner does not reap any income from the farmers who farm it, but Dukes also said the land trust should negotiate a lease with the farmers. The current owner is paid with crops, Hudson said.

"It ought to be rented back out if it's being paid for by taxpayer dollars," Dukes said.

In Other Business ...
  • The council voted to raise the fee for marriage licenses from $6 to $10, which is the fee charged by surrounding counties.

  • The council voted to spend about $90,000 to make repairs at the Inland Bays Regional Wastewater Facility, in the wake of a January fire there.

  • Council heard the following proposed ordinances:
    • Conditional Use 1497, to build wooden pallets on 13.4 acres in an agricultural-residential zone in Nanticoke Hundred;

    • Conditional Use 1498 to apply biosolids to 88 acres in Georgetown Hundred;

    • Conditional Use 1499, to apply biosolids to 220 acres in Dagsboro Hundred; and

    • Conditional Use 1500, lawn and landscaping business, no retail, on15.6 acres in Dagsboro Hundred.

  • Council approved the following grant requests:
    • Big Brothers/Big Sisters, $250 for Bowl for Kids' Sake fundraiser.

    • Sussex County Veterans Council, $1,000 for flags for graves of veterans on Memorial Day.

    • Sussex Central Softball Boosters, $250, to purchase team apparel.

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