Sandy Spring, Md. (WUSA 9) -- Maryland's highest court has agreed to review allegations from a historic enclave of African American landowners in Sandy Spring, Maryland that an alleged dirty development deal cheated them out of access to their family properties along a historic access known as Farm Road.
The December 23 order from the Maryland Court of Appeals comes after more than a decade of defeats in court proceedings and offers the promise of ending the painful dispute one way or the other in the upcoming new year.
The court ruling comes after the release this month of an exhaustive 93-page report by an attorney hired by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission to get to the bottom of landowners' claims of wrongdoing by developers and planning officials during the approval process for the Dellabrooke Subdivision.
Douglas Bregman was hired in the wake of WUSA9's reporting on the claims of landowners. His report found the Commission that hired him did nothing wrong.
Bregman found historic maps that show a section of Farm Road disappeared from the many records between the 1940s and 1960s with no explanation and no record of complaints from property owners.
"The historical Farm Road was never a public road and was not removed from government maps during the regulatory approval process for Dellabrooke," Bregman found. The subdivision approval was given 30 years after sections disappeared from maps.
Bregman also found that Park and Planning General Counsel Adrian Gardner did nothing wrong when he asked state officials to reverse a correction made to a state tax map that would have put the road back on the record.
In a prepared statement a Montgomery County planning chair Francoise Carrier called the report "thorough and conclusive."
But critics including relatives for some of the elderly African American landowners who believe they've been cheated out of access to their own land and the rights to develop or sell call the report shameful.
"The community got exactly what it predicted from Mr. Bregman - half truths and distortions," complained Judy Penny. Penny claims that the Commission still steadfastly refuses to release all of its public files on the Development approval.