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Lewes, Delaware
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October 8, 1993     Cape Gazette
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October 8, 1993

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Canal Bank Continued fi-om page 1 recognized and taxed accordingly by Sussex County, other of the straw deeds were also recognized in Lewes and have been taxed while others were not. That condition exists in a couple of instances today and was a recurring theme during the Satur- day workshop. Councilwoman Elinor Sheehan, a steady critic of the canal bank issue over the past couple of years, noted near the end of the meeting: "Why is Wilbur Marshall's deed recog- nized and he's paying town taxes and the Carey's deed (Francis Carey) is the same as the Mar- shall's and they're not being taxed7 It doesn't take an educa- tion to figure out that something is wrong there." Mayor Adams and City Solici- tor Messick agreed there was a problem with that situation and answered that they didn't know how the problem had arisen. The Marshall land is located along the canal opposite the end of Queen Anne Avenue. Wilbur and Dot Marshall live on Queen Anne and Marshall has taken care of the canal-front land there for a number of years. He received a deed for the land from the offices of Wilson, Halbrook, and Bayard in 1975. Kevin Smith, who lives on Pilottown Rd. opposite the same land, questioned the validity of Marshall's straw deed. He said he felt the land is actually Lewes land and he requested that Lewes consider leasing it to him. "I would lease it and keep it open for the town," Said Smith. "I think the city should be making some mon- ey on that land. City solicitor Messick respond- ed that it didn't appear to him that Marshall could claim ownership by result of adverse possession because the law states that in order to take ownership by adverse possession you have to be able to prove possession and maintenance of the land since before 1933. He said he didn't think Marshall could prove that. "We have great doubt that Mr. Marshall has any clear claim to the land there regardless of the (1975) deed," said Messick. Marshall attended the meeting but made no public comment. He said afterwards he's not sure where he stands now. "The issue of quit claim deeds and straw deeds is important," said Mayor Adams. "We've been exploring with the attorney gener- al's office the position the city should take. People who have held lafid for a long while - they will try to hold on to it. It will end up in a court room." Councilwoman Elinor Sheehan was asked following the meeting whether she thought the status of her land, on which there is a quit claim deed, was in jeopardy now. She responded quickly and sharply. "The first person that comes in to take my land will be shot." She added that she felt a class action suit against the town to settle the matter may he com- ing. Adams said that those who have deeds not currently recognized by Lewes will have to go to a state court and sue Lewes for a deed. However he added that those with new information - and a good bit was presented to Solicitor Mes- UNBELIEVABLE VALUE! 00ntroducing ... Helping Hands A parental grieving group to help individuals and families with the grieving process and to find ways to cope with loss. The group will begin meeting the second Tuesday of each month from 7.30 to 9 p.m. beL--i-_ d Oct. 12 at... _ Bay_side 1535 Savannah Road, Lewes near Wescoat's Corner Call Beth Miller at 645-4700 sick at Saturday's meeting - would have that information reviewed by the town. "The state has told us that only a court of competent jurisdiction is permitted to give out deeds where none presently exist. Lewes will have to act as defendant in such cases," said Adams, "but our posi- tion is that we will be a passive defendant and go by whatever the court says. We're not going to spend a lot of money arguing against people who take us to court on these land matters. Peo- ple can go to the court and present their evidence that convinces them they have ownership to cer- tain parcels." In a number of instances, Pilot- town Rd. property owners, such as Vernon C. Dodd, laid out a string of anecdotal evidence establishing their possession of the land for a long time. He and others pointed out that when the Corps of Engi- neers wanted to carve its canal in the 30s, it went and talked to what it terms the owners "in fee sim- ple" of the lands along the canal. Other evidence, other than deeds, was also presented by a number CAPE GAzE'rYE, Friday, October 8 - October 14, 1993 - 9 on hand. Sheehan noted that "back in the olden days" things weren't always recorded officially. Mayor Adams responded: "It gets back to speculation. We can't make decisions based on speculation. Perhaps the court may but we can't." Others too asked about leasing lands. Robert Stewart, Nancy Brandt, and James Malloy, who have adjoining properties across from the overgrown area just west of the little league complex, asked for leases. They all said they wanted to clear the underbrush and open a view to the canal and plant the area with low-growing native plants so that it would he otherwise undisturbed. Mayor Adams noted again that no open space land leases were being granted pending completion of recommendations by the Open Space subcommittee of the Lewes Long Range Plan effort. Lewes Councilman Tony Pratt, who served as chairman of the Long Range Planning Committee, said the thought was to keep the town's options open on public open spaces. "We're still working to put together a complete inven- tory of town lands before we make any further moves," said Pratt. Quality Carpet Cleaning Truck-Mounted Steam WHITE GLOVE CLEAN 645-8254 A NBW COMMUNITY PRE-CONSTRUCTION PRICE: $89,900 Ics,0,,,.c. I I iheExtpuBnlltcf 7n iiLXatr4Gw%%gr ] I..' 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