It is something most of us take for granted -- an address.
And for the last decade, some Sandy Spring residents with property on Farm Road have been fighting to get theirs reinstated after they were erroneously wiped off the county maps.
They won that battle at a Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission meeting Thursday. The panel voted unanimously to give the addresses back.
“Tears of joy," 72-year-old William Rounds said after picking up a slip of paper with his new address on it.
Without an address, Rounds and 12 other property owners couldn't get county services like water and sewer, and even build a home on land that has been in their families for a hundred years.
The area was settled by free slaves after the Civil War. It is a bittersweet victory for Rounds.
"Financially I'm broke," said Rounds. "I wiped out my savings clearing the land. Maybe I'll have a house there before I die."
The property owners used to have addresses, but somehow Farm Road got wiped off the county map when a nearby development was built in 2001.
"I have seven children, and I'd like to be able to build a home there," property owner Greg Bacon said.
County planners made it clear that just because the residents have their addresses back, it does not mean they can just start building there. There is a lot more that has to happen first.
They have the support of State Delegate Aisha Braveboy (D) of Prince George's County.
"The county executive has agreed he will send someone to start the process of getting water and sewer to the Farm Road homeowners," Braveboy said.
The question still looms: How did Farm Road disappear in the first place?
A community activist is calling for a legislative performance audit of the planning board. Rounds said he needs answers too.
"This property has been in one family all these years only to have this happen, at the hands of our government," said Rounds.
Laurana McCants said she is going to just enjoy have her old Farm Road address back -- ten acres of land and legacy.
“I'm leaving it to my sons,"McCants said. "It will make a nice retreat."
Statement by County Executive Ike Leggett On Old Farm Road in Sandy Spring July 22, 2013
“I am pleased that the property owners along Old Farm Road have prevailed in their long quest to obtain addresses. Many of them who own land in this African American community have had to put their lives on hold and seen their plans to build homes upended simply because they were unable to secure addresses along the road that has served their properties since the late 1800s.
“I am committed to working with all the property owners along Old Farm Road and want to assure them that that the County will assist them in their efforts to move forward. We will be meeting with members of the community over the next few weeks to outline the methodology for moving ahead.
“I also want to thank Delegate Aisha Braveboy, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, Councilmember Marc Elrich, Council President Nancy Navarro, and Senator Karen Montgomery, who joined me in advocating for these residents to obtain addresses.”
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