Some homeowners in Chevy Chase are looking to lay claim to a chunk of unimproved land behind their homes. The problem, however, is that this land is also technically a public road.
Moreland Street NW (map) near Rock Creek Park seemingly dead-ends where the pavement runs out, but legally, the street actually continues as a "paper road", or a planned road that was never built. Before Moreland Place was established, the paper road served as a means of access to its adjoining houses, but now all of those houses have direct access from paved roads.
This grassy area abuts eight houses whose owners, if the application is approved, would have the option of accepting their portion of the newly-privatized land. Some already maintain and/or have fenced in the portion of the "road" adjacent to their property.
Invasive plants like ivy and bamboo grow wild along the paper road and have encroached into people's yards, and there have also been incidents of illegal dumping and littering along the area. Some homeowners have also experienced flooding from water runoff on the paper road, but any infrastructural work to alleviate this flooding cannot be permitted unless the city accepts the responsibility to do so.
"The city doesn't maintain it, they don't acknowledge it, and one of our neighbors called them to try to get the various ivy and a dead tree removed, and I believe they ultimately had to do it themselves because it's landlocked in effect; there's no means the city can readily access it," applicant John Hurvitz explained at a meeting of ANC 3/4G.
Hurvitz also stated that the last time that anyone tried to resolve the paper road portion of the street was in the early 1950s. While the Commission (the precursor to the DC Council) approved striking the designation around that time, it was never recorded on the deed because a neighbor objected.
The ANC voted unanimously earlier this week to support the application; the disposition of the land will eventually go before the DC Council for approval.
This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/chevy-chase-neighbors-seek-to-lay-claim-to-one-of-dcs-paper-roads/18876.
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