Sussex County buys farmland near Angola to preserve as open space

An aerial view of the 17.5 acres of farmland near Angola purchased by Sussex County to protect it from future development. The land is in the Inland Bays watershed. (Submitted photo)

GEORGETOWN — For nearly $1 million, Sussex County has purchased several acres of land in the Inland Bays watershed to protect it from development and to preserve it as open space for nature and naturalists alike.

Sussex County Administrator Todd F. Lawson announced during Tuesday’s County Council meeting 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 the 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 District 4 Sussex 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 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 nonprofit Delaware Center for the Inland Bays in identifying and recommending parcels that were strategic in their location and would benefit the waterways most by being protected, Mr. Lawson said. The property will remain in agricultural production for the time being. Any future use will be determined at a later date.