SANDY SPRING, Md. (WUSA9) -- Persistence certainly pays off. Both in the way we tell our stories, and for those who allow us to tell them.
After a long battle to get a group of residents in the Sandy Spring community help with a land issue, there is finally some movement in the right direction and 11 property owners are smiling now. Now they have a success story to write as their next chapter in the history of their lands.
The vote that brought William Rounds to tears.
"It's a hell of a thing to come out of slavery and go back into it," said Rounds.
After nearly 7 years of fighting Maryland Planning Commission officials, he and the rest of his friends who own property on the historic Farm Road of Sandy Spring are getting official addresses.
"5- 5-0 Brooke Road. You're smiling, huh?" asked WUSA 9's Ken Molestina.
"Yup!" said Rounds.
At the center of the fight were disputes over the road getting wiped out from current county maps. That meant their property was not recognized, and therefore they could not build on their lands or legitimately enjoy the benefits of owning it. The road in question has been around since the late 1800's. The property off the road was owned by free slaves who through generations passed them down to their descendants like William Rounds.
"From my grandmother to mother and they bought this land out of being freed and staying in the family all these years," said Rounds.
Now he is thanking WUSA9 and our colleague Scott Broom for the efforts in reporting the story that led to the action we witnessed on Thursday night.
"If it wasn't for you guys I would probably still be standing down in the bushes with my bush axe," said Rounds.
The next hurdle for these land owners will more than likely be permitting issues. They have the their addresses so they can now apply for permits to build and expand on their lands. However, these properties don't have the kind of infrastructure needed to get those permits.