SANDY SPRING, Md. (WUSA9) -- The leader of the region's largest planning agency will ask state officials to reconsider a controversial decision about an inaccurate tax map that has destroyed property values, and thrown the landowning families involved, into a six-year legal limbo.
Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission Chair Francoise Carrier told a meeting of the mostly elderly African American landowners Monday that she would ask the Maryland Department of Planning to look into the matter for a second time to determine if the historic "Farm Road," that was mysteriously erased from the tax maps when a new development was approved, could be restored on official records.
"That way, MDP can decide if they enough information to put a road on the map and where to put it," Carrier told her audience gathered at the Sandy Spring Slave Museum.
The deletion of the road from tax maps left landowners with no legal access to their own property, no addresses for their parcels, and no way to obtain building permits, even though the southern end of the road is clearly still in existence.
Carrier's new request comes after SaveSandySrping.org founder Steve Kanstoroom revealed records showing that M-NCPPC's top lawyer interfered with an earlier state decision to correct the tax maps. Montgomery County Council Member Marc Elrich called the communications between M-NCPPC General Counsel Adrian Gardner and Maryland Secretary of Planning Richard Hall inappropriate "backroom" dealing at the expense of landowners who cannot afford lawyers to fight back.
Especially infuriating to landowner William Rounds is the fact that Gardner's own agency had insisted that Rounds obtain the map correction in order to be issued an address for his property.
Rounds was stunned to learn that the correction he had fought for was quickly reversed after Gardner contacted Secretary Hall.
"They told me to fix the map, I got the map fixed," said Rounds. "And then they're the same ones that just undo it?"
Gardner says he was merely notifying Hall of possible litigation if the map correction stood. Despite her promise to ask state officials to take a new look at the issue, Carrier has defended the communication as "appropriate".
Through a spokesman, Hall has refused to take questions from WUSA9 about the matter.
Carrier said when she asks the state agency to reconsider the facts of the case, she will also notify officials that 2 landowners may not agree with the map correction. Kanstoroom says the state's only concern should be whether the map is accurate, not who agrees.
Carrier has also called for an independent investigation of the development approval for the Dellabrooke subdivision by M-NCPPC that resulted in the mysterious deletion of "Farm Road" from the tax map.
Farm Road was deleted even though the southern portion of road clearly still exists and has been used by landowners and their ancestors.
Former Montgomery County Legislative Aide Adrienne Gude alleged in a 2008 affidavit that false and misleading documents were submitted by developers in order to obtain development approval.
The affidavit was dismissed from an unsuccessful lawsuit.
In May, Montgomery County's former Inspector General Thomas Dagley wrote to Kanstoroom, alleging that law enforcement investigations into the matter had been "shut down" for "partisan reasons."
Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler has refused to comment on Dagley's allegation.