Sandy Spring, Md. (WUSA) -- Maryland National-Capital Park and Planning Chair Fracoise Carrier says her agency has nothing to hide as it faces renewed scrutiny over the mysterious deletion of a historic access road from state tax maps when a new development was approved.
SaveSandySrping.org founder Steve Kanstoroom and Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich have accused the agency of withholding public records from landowners trying to set land records straight in this African American enclave.
The southern end of "Farm Road" still exists, but without recognition on state tax maps, landowners have been in legal limbo for years. M-NCPPC has denied them addresses and the landowners are unable to apply for building permits, rendering family-held land all but worthless.
"We would love to give these people addresses," Carrier said in an exclusive interview with WUSA9. But she added that M-NCPPC must have "some kind of proof that they have the right to cross other peoples' property to get to a public road. And that's whats at question here."
Landowners, who trace roots back to freed slaves who settled the area in the 1900's, contend there would be no issue if the road had not been deleted from official land records when the nearby Dellabrooke subdivision, built in 2002, was approved by M-NCPPC.
Carrier says the subdivision approval will be investigated after allegations resurfaced that developers submitted "false and misleading" documents that eliminated the road in order to obtain the go-ahead for building.
Kanstoroom claims M-NCPPC officials have failed to provide key documents in the case requested under the Maryland Public Information Act in 2008 and 2010.
The documents requested included M-NCPPC's records showing how easements were granted from the original landowners, to the developer, and on to M-NCPPC, which took a conservation easement in the area.
Kanstoroom also sought an "address book" map of the area showing crossed-out addresses. He additionally demanded the agency's written policies on issuing addresses.
Carrier and interim agency director Rose Krasnow said the agency is unable to make copies of the address book because it is old and too large to fit on the agency's printing equipment.
Krasnow invited WUSA9 to take pictures of the map and said any member of the public could do the same.
Kanstoroom posted a video he took in 2007 where an M-NCPPC employee can be heard asking that recording be stopped. Krasnow said that was because employees were being recorded, but none can be seen in the video.
In the WUSA9 interview, Krasnow said the M-NCPPC's only written policies on issuing addresses in 2007 were contained in an "ancient" manual, which she said she would try to locate. She offered WUSA9 an April 2013 draft of an updated manual.
Krasnow testified in a court case that "there are no written" rules for issuing addresses.
In the interview she offered a clarification, saying that her testimony was about a manual that "didn't really address -- pardon the pun -- this issue at all."
WUSA has filed its own Public Information Act requests to determine what documents the agency is willing to release.