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Senate Bill 6

Senate Bill 6 was signed into law by Governor John Carney in September 2023. It affirms the Warner Grant, a document that has offered Cape Henlopen unique protections for 350 years.


SB 6 grew out of a public meeting held at Cape Henlopen High School on December 5, 2022. 

Nearly one thousand citizens came out on a Monday night in December to learn about plan to a build a bar/restaurant on the dunes in Cape Henlopen State Park. Public comments overwhelmingly rejected the bar/restaurant’s construction.


At the end of the meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Ray Bivens announced that the plans for the bar/restaurant plan would be “paused.” The signing of SB 6 into law prohibits such commercial development in the Park, and establishes additional guardrails so that DNREC remains true to the General Assembly’s commitment to honor the 350-year-old Warner Grant


The Warner Grant dates from 1682, when William Penn was deeded the lands of Cape Henlopen and the coastline by England's Duke of York. Penn then granted a petition from Edmond Warner to establish a rabbit warren and build a house on the lands with the stipulation that Cape and all its lands were to be for common usage by the people of Lewes and Sussex County, giving all of the lands to the public for recreation, conservation and/or nature education uses.


“The Warner Grant Trust Lands shall be forever administered by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control for the benefit of the people of Lewes, Sussex County and State of Delaware. Said lands must be administered for the public benefit as areas of public recreation, conservation and/or nature education and may not be used for private benefit to the detriment of such public benefit."


SB 6 ensures that future generations of Delawareans can enjoy Cape Henlopen’s irreplaceable natural environment even as Sussex County grows and changes.

  • Reaffirms the General Assembly’s intent to honor the Warner Grant Trust and Delaware’s 350-year-old obligations.

  • Stops further commercialization of Cape Henlopen State Park by prohibiting a restaurant, hotel, hostelry, or entertainment center.

  • Provides clearer guidance to DNREC to help it administer the Warner Grant Trust Lands which encompass CHSP.

  • Embraces the same trustee priorities for DNREC as contained in the 1979 legislation: conservation, nature education and public recreation.

  • Repeats the original language from 1979 that prohibits private benefit or financial gain that is detrimental to conservation, nature education and public recreation. 

  • Clarifies the Chancery Court’s jurisdiction in relation to the Warner Grant Trust Lands.

  • Protects programs and partnerships that existed as of 1/1/2023.

  • Reflects extensive public debate, discussion and support.

  • Receives support from across the state.

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