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Activist claims survey doomed Farm Road

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Published on: Thursday, June 13, 2013

By Holden Wilen

SANDY SPRING – The latest findings in the Farm Road dispute in Sandy Spring reveal the firm that drew up the plat removing the historic road did so at the request of the Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission.

The Sentinel obtained copies of sworn statements made by Douglass Riggs III, the surveyor for the firm Macris, Hendrick and Glascock, who approved the record plat – a map showing legal boundaries – testified twice in court in regard to the Farm Road dispute.

On May 6, 2009, Riggs testified that the firm created a conservation easement for Dellabrooke at the request of M-NCPPC and that he always shows all known easements on record plats because it is the standard practice of the firm to do so. When the conservation easement was created, Farm Road was erased from the maps.

“As a professional surveyor, we’re not really licensed to do deed, I mean do land record research,” Riggs said in his 2009 testimony. “We do it as a convenience to our client sometimes, but if there is an easement that's recorded on a property, we’re not experts in uncovering all of them. So, necessarily, if we know it, we'll show it.”

Two years earlier, in 2007, Riggs testified he was not required to show all easements on the Dellabrooke record plat.

 Steve Kanstoroom, an advocate for the Farm Road property owners, said he thinks Riggs’ statements are wholly contradictory and Riggs had to have known about Farm Road’s existence from reading the deeds.

“Mr. Riggs testified he verified the Dellabrooke survey,” Kanstoroom said. “To do so, he would need to review the chains of title for each property that were combined to create the Dellabrooke subdivision.  Three of the chains of title for the property used to create it specifically refer to the road as their boundary.  Yet the survey used in the creation of the Dellabrooke plat excludes Farm Road. Subsequently, when Mr. Riggs was asked under oath if there was an existing Farm Road at the time, he verified the survey, his attorney quickly instructed him not to answer.  I was seated directly across from Mr. Riggs and his counsel at the time.”

Riggs, who now resides in Florida, did not return calls for comments. Macris, Hendrick and Glascock also did not return calls.

The removal of Farm Road from tax maps resulted in the loss of addresses for the property owners and destroyed the values of their properties. The property owners are mostly African-American descendants of freed slaves, and they say their families have used the road for more than 100 years.

At a public meeting last week, Montgomery Planning Board Chairwoman Francoise Carrier announced the agency will conduct an investigation into the approval of the Dellabrooke subdivision.

Reader Comments - 1 Total

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Posted By: Jose A. Acosta On: 7/6/2013

Title: Riggs failure

I think Mr. Riggs and ANY M-NCPC employee, appointee or representative involved in providing Mr. Riggs or his firm the approval license or recommendation to obviate Farm Road from his report, survey and record needs to be criminally prosecuted for fraud, denial of civil rights and falsifying records. A clear line MUST drawn for this type of professional omission, error or behavior.


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