|Anderson, flanked by police|
officers, declines to accept a
petition from Macedonia Baptist
Church, despite having had at
least one private meeting with
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Leggett asks for mediator to intervene in Westbard cemetery debacle
Leggett is also floating the idea that the County itself would end up picking up the tab for the cemetery investigation, instead of developer Equity One, which has proposed building a garage on the graveyard site. MBC Pastor-elect Segun Adebayo has expressed concern that "he who pays the piper calls the tune," regarding the potential that the investigation results could be skewed to favor Equity One as a result.
The Planning Board had arbitrarily imposed a 60-day deadline to complete the cemetery study - an absolutely farcical decision, given the complexity and difficulty of this particular search. Remains on the site lay under not only a parking lot, but as much as 60-80 feet of fill dirt. The graves themselves would be in clay, which by itself is hard for ground radar to penetrate. By definition, the study could not possibly have been completed within the 60 day timeframe.
Assuming the Planning Board defers to Leggett's recommendation, the 60-day deadline is gone at this point. However, Equity One retains the ability to move forward with development all around the cemetery site after the board's February decision. The letter doesn't specify what would happen next if the mediation fails.
In their letter, Leggett and Berliner describe a successful outcome of the mediation as both parties agreeing to "the scope and terms of the archaeological study and peer review." The latter was dealt a severe setback when Planning Director Gwen Wright "dismissed" the two anthropologists MBC had sought to handle the peer review, according to Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, head of the church's social justice ministry.
Leggett and Berliner did not mention the disrespectful treatment of church officials by the Planning Department and Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson over the last several weeks in their letter, which included the department summoning six Park Police vehicles and one Montgomery County police cruiser to their Silver Spring headquarters during a peaceful protest by MBC. Anderson then surrounded himself with armed police officers as Coleman-Adebayo attempted to speak with him. No County elected official has condemned these and other displays of institutional racism during the cemetery controversy, despite their oversight authority, and the fact that Anderson and the other board commissioners serve at the pleasure of the County Council.