County To Retain Surplus Property Per State Deal

SNOW HILL –  County officials agreed last week not to put an unused piece of property up for sale.

The Worcester County Commissioners voted unanimously to retain ownership of a piece of land near Route 113 in Showell. Though a local resident expressed interest in buying the land, staff reported that when the county bought the property from the state there were restrictions involved.

“The contract of sale from the state includes a clause that should the county wish to divest itself of this property, it had to be returned to the state,” said Phyllis Wimbrow, the county’s deputy director of development review and permitting.

In early February, the county received a letter from Showell resident Thomas Ayd indicating he was interested in purchasing a 1.49-acre parcel owned by the county. The land, he said, was leftover from construction of the ramp for Route 113 south. He said he was hoping the county would declare the property surplus and put it up for bid.

In a report to the commissioners, Ed Tudor, the county’s director of development review and permitting, explained that the county purchased the property for $12,400 in 2005 when it was offered for sale by Maryland’s State Highway Administration (SHA). Tudor said the land was paid for with funds from the Forest Conservation Program.

“It was our intent at the time to plant additional trees on the site, again using Forest Conservation Funds,” Tudor wrote.

The county sought proposals for tree planting on the site in 2007.

“When investigating the potential plantings we determined that because the area had been used to stage equipment, material and old asphalt during the highway construction, the area was so heavily compacted that the site would not support trying to plant trees without some subsoil work to loosen the ground and the importation of topsoil,” Tudor wrote.

In the end, the county simply opted to let nature take its course and left the land to regenerate on its own.

In spite of the interest from Ayd, Tudor said there were issues that would complicate the sale of the property. One of those is the deed from SHA.

“…it specifically states that the property is transferred to the county so long as it is used for a public purpose,” Tudor wrote. “It goes on to say that should the property cease to be used for such public purpose or should it be needed by the state for a future transportation purpose, all right, title and interest in the property shall immediately revert to the state.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.