Officials Knew for Years of Environment That Spawned Farm Road Problems
The problems related to the Farm Road emanate from the local Planning Agency – the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (the “Commission”). The Commission has a history of accepting plans that are deficient and taking no steps to correct them or worse, in some cases facilitating such plans.
Officials have known of problems within the Commission for years.
In 2004 the local media and Washington Post widely reported that Commission was involved with altered documents, postdated approvals and allegedly forged documents related to a massive planned community in Clarksburg. Despite significant media attention to what became known as the “Clarksburg Fiasco”, and despite numerous public meetings, many say it is once again business as usual at the Commission.
In January 2007 officials learned that a layperson had been operating as an engineer in the Washington DC area for decades. Commission officials contended that they need not act when they learn of such matters.
In late September, 2007, the Farm Road residents were informed by Councilmember Marc Elrich that the County Executive and County Attorney were provided copies of the deeds for all Farm Road properties and key documents that are linked on this site. At that time the residents were told that the Executive and his staff were working on remedying the Farm Road situation.
On October 11, 2007, the Farm Road issues were made public at a hearing held by all of the County’s State Legislators, known as the County Delegation. The hearing was held in the County Council chambers – an annual occurrence whereby all elected legislators, both County and State, where in attendance or had televised access to the hearing. Click here to view Legislators’ reactions to Farm Road issue.
Reasons for Government Inaction
Numerous reports exist whereby the Planning Agency has been involved in questionable development projects which have been funded by many of the Legislator’s largest donors, or in some cases, for political gain. For example, the Commission's most senior attorney, with 17 years of service, filed a fraud suit against the Commission and numerous elected and appointed officials. Click here to view a letter from the senior attorney that summarizes some of the alleged wrongs.
Hence, any investigation into the Commission could cause problems for many of the politicians that could help the Farm Road residents. Consequently, no corrective action is taken.
Unlike most municipal planning agencies across the nation, the Commission claims that it is independent of state control and county control, even though the State Legislature can make changes to it and the County Council appropriates its operating and capital funds. State law does not explicitly grant oversight authority to either the State or County. Hence, numerous complaints arise whereby citizens allege that the Commission is operating as a rogue agency for the benefit of those persons or entities in a position to manipulate it for their benefit. In addition, the State and County laws do not provide legal standing for parties aggrieved by the Commission's actions, who have not submitted a development or other application, to file suit and challenge its decisions.
Development Plans for Property Adjacent to Farm Road
Many of the Farm Road residents claimed that they had seen development plans for projects located adjacent to the Farm Road. Commission staff has denied any knowledge of them. However, on January 22, 2008, approved land plans were discovered in a planning document which the Commission had created for a neighboring city. Click here to see the approved Land Use Plans.
The Commission recommended that the proposed development have access to public water and sewer, thereby increasing the number of homes that could be built upon it. This is particularly troubling in that the Commission had previously published a statement that the utilities were needed to maintain the “Quaker and African-American heritage” of this area, which the Farm Road historically served, to be recommended as a “Rural Legacy Trail.” The Master Plan also specified that Rural Legacy Trail remain with the beneficiaries of this heritage in a manner that serves their interests. Click here to see the previously published statement.