MD Judge Buries Plans to Build Apartment Complex Over Slave Cemetery

In Summary

 A judge issued an injunction halt on the sale of property which was previously a slave cemetery after a local community commission’s call to preserve the historic site.

A coalition from a community in Maryland has provided more than enough evidence to show that a portion of a Washington D.C. apartment complex was used as a burial ground for freed Black slaves known as Moses Cemetery. In a lawsuit filed by local community groups over the summer, a state judge ruled to halt the sale of the property. 

According to an article from NBC News, the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission evoked public outrage due to their pending $50 million sale of Westwood Tower in Bethesda, to a local investment firm, Charger Ventures. This led to the lawsuit by the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition and others, accused the commission of violating state law. The suit claims the commission failed to get court approval for the sale of the property. 

Related: Maryland Church Seeks to Regain Historic Slave Cemetery

The presiding judge, Karla Smith, denied the motion. However, she granted a preliminary injunction to stop the sale. In her decision, Smith wrote there is a public interest to conserve the site and there was nothing requiring the company to conserve it in the county contract. 

HOC Commissioner Roy Priest released a statement expressing his disappointment in the judge’s decision and the continued pursuit to sell the property. 

“The Commission intends to move forward with further legal proceedings that confirm the agency’s ability to execute a sale and its plan to not only ensure the preservation of affordable units for the long-term—under a 99-year covenant—but to also help deepen and broaden HOC’s reach throughout Montgomery County, beyond the more than 15,000 households we serve each day, by providing critical resources for affordable housing investments where none previously existed,” he said, according to Bethesda Magazine. 

According to an article from Bethesda Magazine, the Housing Opportunities Commission intends to continue to sell the property. 

There is currently no further information on plans as of now. 

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