Sandy Spring Road Investigation Shut Down for Partisan Reasons, Montgomery County IG says

6:13 PM, May 30, 2013   |    comments
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SANDY SPRING, Md. (WUSA9) -- Montgomery County's former Inspector General has broken years of silence saying in a new letter that law enforcement authorities "shut down" investigations into wrongdoing alleged in the approval of a 2002 Sandy Spring development.


Accusations include complaints that misleading documents were intentionally submitted to secure a development approval that wiped out property values in an historic African American enclave, a 2007 affidavit shows.  The affidavit also alleges that public officials knew documents were misleading but did nothing about it.

The so-called Farm Road controversy has pitted an historic enclave of African-American property owners against the powerful Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission since 2007. The landowners claim their property values were destroyed when M-NCPPC approved a plan that erased the historic road from official maps, leaving their parcels landlocked with no legal access or addresses.

Former Montgomery County Inspector General Thomas J. Dagley has sent a new letter to the founder of saying that there were"concerns about wrongdoing brought to my attention."  Dagley calls the information "credible." He goes on to claim that when the information was brought to "prosecutors or law enforcement" official investigations were "shut down" due to "partisan or other reasons not related to the credibility of the material."  He adds "an investigator resigned in protest".

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, whose deputy reviewed allegations in 2007, has not responded to an interview request from WUSA9.

A 2007 affidavit that was dismissed from an unsuccessful lawsuit outlines a number of accusations regarding the Farm Road case and others in the area.  The author of that sworn statement is Adrienne Gude, a former Montgomery County Council Legislative Aide who worked on the issue on behalf of property owners.

Gude's sworn 2007 affidavit alleges that the historic Farm Road was wiped out with the help of intentionally misleading documents with the knowledge of public officials who let it happen anyway. 

Many of Gude's claims are about the powerful Maryland National Capital M-NCPPC Commission, which approves and oversees development in Montgomery and Prince George's County.

She claims "false and misleading plans" were submitted to M-NCPPC and she claims "personal knowledge of M-NCPPC's refusal to take corrective action once notified."

In an interview with WUSA9 Gude said:  "I believe that engineers and surveyors submitted... and developers... submitted intentionally false documents to M-NCPPC so that they could proceed with their development."

Gude said she believed M-NCPPC officials were aware that the documents were intentionally misleading "Because if they had checked their records they would have seen there were already properties and a road there. Which is their job. That's what they're supposed to do.

"When we brought it to their attention that there was a road there and that there were properties that were landlocked they said there was no road there," Gude recalled in the WUSA9 interview.

If her accusations are true, a map prepared for landlocked property owner William Rounds shows that developers platted three building lots on top of the Farm Road right-of-way.  M-NCPPC gained control of a conservation easement in the area.

Nobody told the African american landowners when it happened and no one paid them for the valuable right-of-way they believe they lost.  Now M-NCPPC won't even give them addresses for their land or permits to build,  rendering the land nearly worthless.

Citizens including Gude complain that when they tried to video record M-NCPPC's own map that appeared to show the road and exed out addresses to their parcels, officials refused.

Steve Kanstoroom, the founder of and an advocate working on behalf of the property owners claims that officials have refused to provide a full-scale copy of the map despite a formal request under Maryland's Public Information Act.

The M-NCPPC and the engineer firm targeted by Gude's accusations have not responded to WUSA9 requests for interviews.

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