Landowners' hands tied because of old, overgrown road

An old road and bureaucracy prevent landowners from using their land. (Photo: Username/Horia Varlan)

Hundreds of acres of land in Maryland are being held hostage by an overgrown road.

William Rounds owns land off Brooke Road in Sandy Spring that has been passed down from his grandmother since 1904. But he can't build on it because it sits next to a gravel road locals call "Farm Road."

The road is overgrown and there are no signs announcing its existence.

"They're saying it doesn't exist," Rounds said. "They're saying it's a cow path."

Yet tax records and property deeds clearly show the road. Even the Maryland Map Department says the road exists.

Rounds and others complain the road is preventing hundreds of acres from being developed. About the only thing the landowners can do is pay property taxes.

"It's not fair!" said Robert Aukard, a property owner. "I'm paying a whole lot of taxes on property I can't use."

Aukard, 88, owns land passed down from his grandfather.

Some suspect developers don't want Farm Road resurrected because it would hamper their own prospects and profits.

The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission says it's not that simple.

Residents must have an address in order to get building permits. They can't get an address unless the property is in front of a public road for use by police and fire officials. Farm Road is not a public road.

"I can't do anything without an address," said Aukard "I had an address and they took it back!"

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