The 5-acre homestead with its

The 5-acre homestead with its mangroves and greenery could have become the latest set of high-end townhouses wedged inside Broward Countyâs urban core, but a two-year preservation push has ensured that will never happen.

County commissioners ensured the land along the South Fork of the Middle River in Wilton Manors will be saved from development when they signed off Tuesday on their portion of the $3.9 million purchase. An option to preserve the land was set to expire at the end of the week, with developers waiting in the wings with substantially higher offers.

It was a rare chance in the countyâs $400 million conservation bond issue to save a bit of environmentally sensitive land in the most urbanized part of the region, but it also came at a premium price ÷ double what state appraisals had valued the land at.

The owners, former Circuit Judge George Richardson and his wife, said they were pleased with the chance to preserve their land.

Red and white mangroves, pond apple, strangler fig, seagrape and leather fern populate the property, giving it the feel of native Florida thatâs been lost to development.

ãItâs nice to think that it will all be preserved,ä Richardson said after the countyâs decision. ãItâs a thrill to think that the public will be able to enjoy it now. Itâs what I had hoped for.ä