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The Farm Road Story – The local Planning Agency, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (the “Commission”) who, according to a media report, "answers to nobody in state and county government", wrongly wiped the road and addresses of Sandy Spring's kinship community of descendants of Freedmen - the first freed slaves in Montgomery County - off the map.
Consequently, their ancestral properties have been rendered unmarketable, unbuildable and of value only to neighboring developers. Without a street address, and recognition of their road, their properties are ineligible for building permits. If their homes burn down or are otherwise destroyed, as in the case of one family, they cannot be rebuilt. To see one resident plead for help from County and State elected officials, please click here.
Sandy Spring, Maryland is a rural community, settled by Quakers, located 17 miles from Washington, DC in one of the wealthest counties in the United States. It is also an enclave for modestly living African-Americans, many of whom trace their family roots to the Freedmen.
Surrounding property values have risen so high as to make these peaceful souls the target of undescribable greed and public corruption.
Click on photos to view WUSA 9 TV video with Attorney General Doug Gansler.
Sandy Spring resident Robert Awkard and property owner William Rounds. January 17, 2008
"I'm um quite ah -- select my word here. Ah, ah, I don't know what the Inspector General's um jurisdiction um may or may not be in this case. And ah that remains to be seen. Ah, I think um I would like to get the reforms that we have underway in place ah. And ah then, if there is a -- an audit or an investigation of them, I think we would welcome them ah to see that ah the things that we are trying to do are actually being done."
M-NCPPC Chairman Royce Hanson responds on NPR to questions about alleged fraudulent practices in his agency. December 11, 2006.
The Washington, DC area suffers from some of the worst traffic and development planning in the nation. Unlike nearly any other jurisdiction, two neighboring Maryland Counties rely upon a quasi-government agency to decide who can build, and where. The agency claims to be immune from oversight by state and county officials. Its regulations benefit those in the know who understand how to exploit its broken system. The results are windfalls for unscrupulous developers and their political cohorts, and brokenness and dismay for those in their path.
In February 2006, elected leaders first raised the issue of calling for an investigation into the Planning Agency.
In April 2006 the Planning Agency's lead attorney resigned and sued it and elected officials for fraud.
In May, 2006 the Sierra Club and one of the largest local civic groups called for a halt to building on properties greater than an acre in size pending the outcome of an independent investigation. “The number and gravity of irregularities found in this case, and M-NCPPC’s refusal to take action against anyone involved with it, suggests that the problems go well beyond merely mistakes and negligence.”
October 2006 - County Council President calls upon Hanson's agency to explain why it is failing to enforce the forest conservation law.
January 2007 - Councilmember alerts newly elected County Executive's staff to inaction over fraudulent plans and submissions and Planning Agency's claims that it need not act when it learns of false and misleading plans.
April 2007 - State legislator Herman Taylor calls for Attorney General, the former State's Attorney who was in office while the wrongdoing occurred, to investigate how many cases have been impacted by a layperson masquerading as an engineer in the Washington DC area for the past thirty years. AG does not respond.
May 2007 - County Councilmember Marc Elrich calls upon the Attorney General to investigate to no avail.
May 2007 - Multiple media reports on layperson masquerading as a professional in the the Washington DC area for the past thirty years, working on mass-transit system, retirement community, hospitals and other projects.
Media reports Chairman Hanson urges the Attorney General not to investigate. AG cites hands are tied because Maryland does not have a fraud statute.
August 2007 - Local officials and Attorney General made aware of a survey company submitting plans on multiple projects that fail to accurately depict property boundaries, ownership and easements. Sandy Spring properties were included within the submissions.
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