Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008

Farm Road landowners send letter to Leggett seeking help

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The owners of properties on Farm Road in Sandy Spring have sent a letter to County Executive Isiah Leggett urging him to contact Park and Planning to request that the agency recognize the road.

County official say they are studying the matter, but have no solutions to offer the landowners right away.

‘‘We’re asking him to make a phone call. He is our county executive. He can help us solve it quicker, easier, cheaper, less painful than anyone else,” Oneida Offord Prather, a Farm Road property owner and author of the letter, said of Leggett (D).

The property owners have been prevented from building on their land on Farm Road because a long-used right of way disappeared from planning department records as new area developments were approved.

The gravel road, which residents say is more than 100 years old, once connected their properties, but it does not appear on plans for the neighboring Dellabrooke subdivision of million-dollar homes that the Planning Board approved in 1998.

Park and Planning officials contend that the road was not an issue when Dellabrooke was reviewed because they did not know Farm Road existed.

Prather, 66, of Montgomery Village, said her property on Farm Road has been in her family for centuries and she hopes to build a house on it for her and her sons.

Attached to the letter is an e-mail sent by Steve Kanstoroom, a volunteer advocate for the property owners, outlining their requests. They are asking that Leggett ask Planning Board Chairman Royce Hanson to direct the Park and Planning director to issue addresses on Farm Road.

They also ask county attorney Leon Rodriguez to contact Park and Planning’s general counsel to discuss the planning agency’s history of issuing addresses on Farm Road and that it should continue to do so.

Rodriguez told The Gazette on Tuesday afternoon that he received the letter and that the county has a better understanding of the issue. He said officials will consider what, if anything, they can do.

The property owners met with a representative for the county executive, Rodriguez and Councilman Marc Elrich (D-At large) of Takoma Park last week at the Sandy Spring Slave Museum to discuss their concerns.

‘‘The question is, what can the county do about it?” Elrich said. ‘‘There is evidence that Park and Planning need to give addresses to people.”

Meanwhile, the Montgomery County Civic Federation has taken up the cause of Farm Road property owners by writing their own letters to county and state officials.

The organization, which promotes civic, community and general welfare in Montgomery County, voted to write the letters after hearing from the property owners last week.

‘‘It’s important that these people who believe they aren’t being heard, are heard,” said Wayne Goldstein, MCCF president.

‘‘Their problems made sense and they deserve to be solved. And they deserve to be helped,” Goldstein added.

Staff Writer Margie Hyslop contributed to this report.