Delaware General Assembly





WHEREAS, Alfred Chavez and Bettye Arnold Chavez, his wife, purchased in April, 1987, a poultry farm extending along both sides of County Road 431 bordering a large tract of land owned by the State of Delaware, on which is located the Sussex Correctional Institution and certain other state facilities; and

WHEREAS, the State land in question, now known as the Sussex Correctional Institution "Prison Farm", had, prior to the State's acquisition of the 331 acre parcel in 1933, been public lands of the Sussex County Almshouse, overseen by the Sussex County Trustees of the Poor, since the early 19th century; and

WHEREAS, Mr. and Mrs. Chavez discovered at the time that they had their property surveyed that a small tract of land totalling some seven-tenths of an acre more or less, which had long been assumed to be a part of the farm they were purchasing, and about which the previous owners of the farm stated that they had farmed it forever", was in fact connected to the "prison farm" although separated from the rest of the state-owned property by the Almshouse Tax Ditch and by a hedgerow; and

WHEREAS, Mr. and Mrs. Chavez, desiring to make this small tract of land a part of their farm, as most had always assumed it to be, approached the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), having been told by local officials that it was part of an old highway right-of-way; and

WHEREAS, they were told by DelDOT officials that while a portion of the seven-tenths acre parcel was, in fact, old right-of-way for a bridge which had once spanned the ditch in an earlier highway configuration, the remainder of the parcel was owned by the Delaware Dept. of Corrections, and that if the Chavezes would approach Corrections Department officials about transferring their part of the property, DelDOT would transfer its part; and

WHEREAS, after finally being put into contact with the proper officials at the Department of Corrections, Mr. and Mrs. Chavez walked the property with them in the fall of 1987 and were assured that the department was agreeable to selling the property to them since the department had no use for it, and the poorly-drained land did not lend itself readily to use by any other state agency; and

WHEREAS, after waiting unsuccessfully until March of 1988 for the Department of Corrections to take action on the matter, Mr. and Mrs. Chavez contacted the office of State Senator Richard S. Cordrey for assistance in expediting the matter; and

WHEREAS, In the five years since that time, the case has gone back and forth between the Departments of Corrections, Administrative Services and Transportation without final resolution, and has been presented on two occasions to the Delaware Surplus Property Commission, which has declared the property surplus and indicated its willingness to see the land sold to Mr. and Mrs. Chavez; and

WHEREAS, one major problem in resolving this matter is the fact that, even where present state law authorizes the sale of surplus state lands, it is required that bids be accepted and the land be sold to the highest bidder, a procedure which clearly is not well-suited to this case since, after all their efforts, Mr. and Mrs. Chavez could see the land sold to someone else who submitted a slightly higher bid; and

WHEREAS, Mr. and Mrs. Chavez have within the past year obtained three independent appraisals of the tract of land from three separate Sussex County realty firms, which appraised the property at $3,000, $2,000 and $2,150 respectively; and

WHEREAS, the sum of $2,383 represents the average of these three appraisals; NOW, THEREFORE:

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE (three-fourths of all members elected to each House thereof concurring therein):

Section 1. Notwithstanding any provisions to the contrary, including those contained in Chapter 94, Title 29, Delaware Code, the transfer and conveyance of all the State's interest in the following described real property to Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Chavez of Georgetown Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware, for the consideration of $2,383.00, is hereby specifically approved:

All that certain triangular-shaped tract, piece or parcel of land, without improvements, bounded on the west by County Road 431, bounded on the northeast by Almshouse Ditch, and bounded on the south by the lands of Alfred Chavez and Bettye Arnold, husband and wife, totalling seven-tenths (.7) of an acre, more or less, and being a portion of the same lands which were transferred to the State of Delaware for the use of Sussex County by deed from Leroy B. Tyndall, Oscar P. Johnson, Arthur B. Campbell, Herman R. Baker and William H. Long, Trustees of the Poor of Sussex County, dated December 10, 1933 and of record in the office of the Recorder of Deeds at Georgetown in Deed Book 293, Page 420, and to which additional references are made in Deed Book 462, Page 518; Deed Book 1548, Page 69; and Deed Book 1631, Page 64.

Section 2. The Department of Administrative Services is hereby authorized and directed to execute and deliver to Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Chavez a good and sufficient deed transferring and conveying the said real property.

Approved June 30, 1993.