Deed with DuPont holds up land parcel sale by club

By Lynn R. Parks

The proposed sale of 3.35 acres of the Seaford Golf and Country Club for a townhouse development has hit a snag. According to Charles Butler, president of the country club board of directors, a provision in the country club’s deed prohibits the development of any of the country club property as long as the DuPont Company owns the nylon plant that it built in 1939. The DuPont Company sold its nylon plant to Koch Industries in May. But it still owns the land on which the plant sits, as well as the surrounding land. The country club was built in 1940 by the DuPont Company exclusively for its supervisors. The club, across Woodland Ferry Road from the plant, purchased its property from DuPont six years ago. The deed also stipulates that as long as the DuPont Company owns the land on which the nylon plant sits, the company has to be given the first option to purchase any land that the country club wants to sell. “DuPont reserves a right of first refusal to match within 30 days any offer to purchase” country club land, the deed says. Butler said that the country club’s board was aware of the two clauses and had its attorney, David Hackett, review the deed. “His opinion was that the sale of the plant by DuPont satisfied the restriction and we were free to proceed,” Butler said. Butler said last week that representatives with the country club were trying to arrange a meeting with DuPont Company representatives. “We hope that they will see the light, that this sale doesn’t make any difference to the plant,” he said.
Rick Deadwyler, spokesman for the DuPont Company, said that a visit to the country club by company representatives would not change the facts of the deed. “We would love to have a conversation with the people of the country club, but I don’t know how that would change our mind,” he said. “We have reviewed all the information and the deed restriction still applies.” Deadwyler said that the deed restriction was put in place because the DuPont Company did not feel that houses should be built near the nylon plant site. “When we sold the land, it was with the agreement that it would be used for golf and recreational use,” he said. “We thought it was not good to have residences so close to the plant, for the individuals living there and for the company.” The townhouses would be constructed at the southeast corner of the golf course, across Nylon Boulevard from a neighborhood of single-family homes. This is not the first hurdle that the proposed townhouse development has faced. Rezoning of the property to accommodate high-density housing was opposed by several neighboring residents and was recommended against by the city’s planning and zoning commission. Despite that, the city council voted Sept. 14 to approve the rezoning from R-1 to R-3. East Bay Homes, Rehoboth Beach, and Vision Builders, Seaford, hope to construct 30 condominiums on the land. Selling prices for the condominiums will start at $200,000. Sale price of the country club property is $355,000. Butler said that the proceeds from the sale would go toward renovations in the clubhouse, including new siding, improvements to the heating and air conditioning systems and upgrades in the kitchen, as well as in the club’s swimming pool and tennis courts. In a letter to members in April, Butler cautioned that the country club’s budget “is very tight, which means we must remain focused on what we are doing and continue to look for ways to increase income and cut costs.”

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