Sussex County is investing about $5 million in 151 acres of land in the latest effort to “build the area’s open space inventory.”
Officials announced this weekthe purchase of four parcels in eastern and central Sussex, “where the landscape is under increased pressure from residential development,” county spokesman Chip Guy said in a news release.
Sussex County is still riding the housing boom that started when the pandemic hit in 2020. That year, the county issued 11,264 building permits, according to Guy. Last year, they issued 15,395.
In less than five months this year, the county has already issued over 14,400 building permits.
All the development has led to a major increase in the county’s realty transfer tax funds, which are being used to purchase the land.
The parcels include:
- Jones Family Tract: 47 acres purchased for $650,000 off Conaway Road, west of Millsboro and adjacent to the state-owned Midlands Wildlife Area.
- Dawson Bros. Tract: 40 acres along the south side of Route 24 in Millsboro, near the Nanticoke Indian Center, purchased for $2.5 million.
- Dorman Family Farm Preserve: 13 acres located along Herring Creek and Sarah Run in the Angola area. The property is adjacent to another county-owned parcel and was purchased for $400,000.
- Hopkins Preserve: 51 acres along Sweetbriar Road in Lewes, just north of Route 9. Fourth-generation farmer Walter Hopkins and his family sold the property to the county for $1.5 million, half the sale price, under the condition the land be “used at a later time as open space and a recreational amenity, specifically as part of a trailhead,” according to the county.
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While the county will own all of the land purchased, nonprofit Sussex County Land Trust will manage “some of the future assets,” according to county spokesman Chip Guy, including the planned trailhead at Hopkins Preserve for the Lewes-Georgetown Trail.
“Preserving this land and opening it to the public is the right thing to do,” Hopkins said in the news release. “Extending the adjacent bike trail around the property; forging extensive walking trails through the meadows and woodland; enhancing the wildlife habitat; encouraging the planting and growth of local flora – this is what I see for the property, and I look forward to the county and the land trust working together to bring that dream to fruition.”