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The Anacostia link would make this a decent commuter route, wouldn't it?

I think so! I have a colleague who lives in Bowie, and had him thinking about trying to do Bike to Work Day - until he realized the sort of riding he would need to do from the New Carrollton area towards downtown. But I think the bridge is important too.

Great PG co thugs into Anne Arundel

Oh No: It's not like they could, you know, drive. I know very few long or even medium distance cycling thugs.

Not to mention that the PG portion of the WB&A runs through one of the highest-income sections of the county . . . not too many thugs hanging around near the trail.

I've ridden wb&a trail from one end to the other hundreds of times and live nearby. Opening the river crossing would be, well, sweet. Crofton/Odenton residents would have a short ride to BSU and it's marc station. The alternate route, 450 between Race Track Rd. & 3 is very hazardous. I would love to see the trail completed.

I am ambivalent about the proposed detour. If the Capital Crescent can go through the middle of a military installation, it seems strange that the WB&A can't follow a roadbed on park property. We had to accept the ICC detours because complete trail along the ICC ROW costs over $100 million. But this detour probably increases the cost.

If the detour bridge is built to accommodate one property owner and that property is flipped to a developer 5-10 years later, everyone who supported the detour will look silly for the next 50-100 years. On the other hand, if the Meyers were to donate a conservation easement on their entire property in return for the detour, then I would sympathize with AA.

I can't help but wonder whether all of the options have been explored. Most important, if accommodating Meyers is the goal, has AA looked into a detour that would make Meyers happy but still cross the river near the old railroad bridge, so that if the Meyers family sells the land, the trail could be done right eventually?

Dig into history betw AA Co. & B.M. It's all personal people. Pure retribution. What is seen can't be unseen. Been here
in AA long time. Hoagie knows. Peace.

It is both sad and funny to see all of the wrong information written in this article and the follow-up comments. Most of the information is completely wrong about ownership, ROW, and alternatives. In this country, land owners do have rights, especailly families that have conserved the land for over 100 years and not sold out to developers.

Well Ed, set us straight. Where are the errors?

One correction though. All property owners have equal rights, regardless of whether they have owned the land for 100 years or 100 hours, regardless of whether they have conserved the land or raped it, regardless of whether they sold out or not. The law is blind to such things.

There are many factual errors in the story and tone. Since the writer does not identify him/her self, it is hard to address that individual.

Fact 1:: It is not one landowner who opposes this but 4.

Fact 2: (any the biggest confusion about this issue): AA county does not own or have title to the section through the Meyer property. That is privately owned. Constellation Realty title applies to the AA section closer to Odenton, not to the river.

Fact 3: Mr Meyers name is Mr. Meyer and the family has owned and farmed the land since 1899.

Fact 4: Over 3000 petitioned Janet Owens NOT to allow the trail.

Fact 5: Ms. Owens has no ties to the Meyer family.

As someone who has walked many parts of the trail and enjoyed it, I can also respect the rights of the landowner who wants to keep the family farm. That is why I favor the proposed northern route.

And as far as the post that states "all property owners have equal rights", yes I agree. But I can also respect land owners who conserve land for many generations rather than look for a quick buck as some of the earlier posters have stated.

Dear Ed. Thank you for your comments. As a Glenn Dale resident I have been hearing unsubstantiated speculation on who owns title to the old right of way for years. If you know who owns the right of way, can you tell us how you know? Also can you tell us who owned the land before the rail line was built, the terms under which a title was conveyed to the WB&A, and what happenned after that? Did WB&A have title to the land, or fee simple determinable subject to a possibility of reverter, or easement, or what?

Related to that, can you explain who owns the land on the up-river side of the right of way? Google maps shows it as part of Anne Arundel Parks, suggesting that the right of way is right on the border line. Is that correct?

As a PG resident trying to decide whether to support the use of our county's funds for this trail at all, I'd like to understand what the real plan is for this area. Can you tell us what is going to happen to the Meyer tracts? Their web site seems to imply a conservationist ethic, but it is hard to tell if it is in a permanent conservation status or might be sold to a developer at some point. Frankly, if it is in a permanent conservation status, then I believe that the environmental community--which includes most cyclists--would support keeping that area roadless.

If we have been laboring under misinformation, we would all love to know the facts, but they have been difficult to come by. Few if any people on the PG side want to ram a trail down the throats of a community that does not want it, given all the communities we have that want trails that can't get the funding. And no one is talking about eminent domain for the trail so I don't see how property rights are even an issue if Meyer owns the right of way. Feel free to email me directly at [email protected] if you can help lay this issue to rest.

+1 Jim Titus

Ed Farmer,

It sure looks like Anne Arundel County owns the land. From Academy Junction to the County Line.

http://goo.gl/vs2C

Hi Jim,

I can tell you what I know from attending some of the early meetings in AA Co on the Trail, reading the documents and talking with several of the land owners.

1) The Meyer family owned the land before the railroad came and gave rights to the railroad with a "revert back to landowner" clause if the railroad abandoned active use.

2) A successor company to the railroad sold to AA Co a "quick deed" to their ROW. A quick deed means that they did not conduct a full title search but basically said that AA Co had a right to any ROW that this company owned. Since they did not "own" the Meyer tract, it would not be included in any tranfer of assets. That is a key reason why AA Co has looked at alternative routes.

3) As far as your question of the northern section, I do not know who owns that. It should be on the AA Co Land Use plan.

4) The Meyer family has set aside 100+ acres of the farm for use in conservation eduction. This is supported by Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, and Church youth groups who use the land to learn of nature, safe hunting, camping, etc. More than 3500 people visit the Nature Center each year according to Mr. Meyer.

As someone who has lived in Laurel and Crofton, I understand the value of the trail. I have hiked the sections from Piney Orchard to Odenton and the Bowie sections. Where I get upset is in articles and comments that make this a "one man against progress" story when it is not.

I still refer to post #11 which replied with a very technical "land ownership is the same whether it is 100 years or 100 hours" Technically yes...legally yes...emotionally, here is a family where the lead spokeman -- Mr Meyer -- is the grandson of the original owner and the grandfather of grandchildren who have chosen to keep the farm operating. That is not the same as someone who has just "owned" the land for 100 hours -- less than 1 week -- and it is kind of insulting to compare it as such.

To my knowledge there are no plans to sell the farm at all to developers. In my dealings with the family, they would like to see developments like Two Rivers and all the new Bowie housing around the old Bowie racetrack stay away. That is not going to happen. But they seem to be holding on to their little corner of the world and I do not fault them for that.

Is it possible AA railbanked the land?

As for insulting, you can choose to be insulted by what you want, but I wasn't speaking of Mr. Meyer specifically. I was speaking in general terms.

Hi Jim,

I understand the "general terms" of post 11 but it still does not apply to a family that has cared for property this long.

I remember from one of the early hearings years ago where the issue of this "Quick deed" was discussed. The lawyer for the Meyer family showed documentation where the AA Co Office of Deeds and Land Records shows that the land owners for this section are still on the deeds and have been charged property taxes (and still are) all of these years. That convinced me.

I personally look forward to the completion of this Trail and will be one of the first to hike it. But these debates have been going on for years -- I stopped going to the hearings years ago. If the northern path is one that is going to get this accomplished, then I am in favor of finding a solution that opens the Trail and respects the rights of the adjacant land owners.

Ed, it does appear the land was in dispute 9 years ago. But, the state still shows it as property AA county owns (as I linked to above) in the official land records. So, unless this is still working it's way through the courts, I think it's fair to say that AA owns it. You can see on this plat map that Russel Meyer's land plat ends at the ROW.

I also found this article about the dispute.

"Anne Arundel County spokesman Matt Diehl said the county doesn't want to place a financial burden on the Meyer family, which has opened its land to 4-H clubs, the Audubon Society and schools over the past 30 years. But there is a legitimate argument about who has the rights to the land, he said."

Now seeing as how the land records STILL show that AA owns the land, it's hard for me to believe that the case was settled in favor of Meyer.

So while I commend Meyer for setting aside his land for a conservation area, it's hard for me to understand why he would prevent this trail from passing through on land which it doesn't seem he owns. The only reason the article gives for opposing it are that he thinks the trail "would destroy his nature preserve", which is ridiculous and that it "would also threaten to close the shooting range on the property where Meyer, a certified firearms instructor, teaches a Department of Natural Resources hunter safety course" which does not seem like an unsolvable problem.

The articles I could find do mention that the dispute was resolved in response to a letter writing campaign which makes it a political decision by the County Executive and not a legal decision. Which isn't too surprising when you read this one-sided article by the Baltimore Suns "Outdoors" writer. It doesn't mention any other land owners than Meyer.

I've corrected the spelling of Mr. Meyer's name.

Hi Jim,

As I mentioned before, I have kind of walked away from the details of the hearings for a while. I check the Internet every few months for WB&A news in case something happens. That is how I found your article.


The central theme still seems to be based on the original transfer that the land reverted back to the Meyer family. I know that much of the discussion has been, and continues to be on that point. That is a matter for the lawyers to decide. The fact that Matt Diehl stated "there is a legitimate argument about who has the rights to the land" shows that AA Co is not sure and that this project will probably not move forward until that issue is resolved.

At this point, I will go away and check again in 4-6 months to see if anything has changed. I doubt if AA Co will move forward before then based on the current economy.

Hi Ed. I have been at the NJ shore since Thursday night, quickly checking messages but no real time to get into detail. I'll take a look at all you have written since Thursday upon my return Monday night. I notice that you have been calling Washcycle "Jim" so in case you thought we were the same person, we aren't. Best regards. Jim

Hi Dave. I had a chance to read Ed's comments but it looks like he won't be back for a few months to answer my followup questions. I wonder if he really thought that I was your "sock puppet"? I'll make a few quick observations on the ownership, and then respond in full late in the week

If Meyer conveyed fee simple determinable with a possibility of reverter when rail operations ceased, then the property might have reverted to the Meyer family by the 1930s when the rail was all taken up. (Two of those rails are used instead of flange beams to support my first floor). We'll have to see the land records to verify. But BG&E has had wires along the ROW as far as I know under a conveyance from the railroad or its successor, not as a separate easement from Meyer. Someone also operated a toll bridge to Bowie Race Track using the old railroad ROW until it washed out--I'm not sure who and whether they did so under authority of Meyer or the successor to the railroad. So it seems possible that the property reverted but no one paid attention to the reversion and so the successor in effect retained title through adverse possession. But it would take a trial on that. I am just guessing how AA might think it owns the right of way if Ed Farmer is correct about the original conveyance.

I doubt railbanking is involved since the rail line was abandonned 40-50 years before the railbanking statute was passed.

If there is a 50/50 chance that either party owns the land, this could be subject of negotiation over payment to Meyer. But for now, I can imagine AA preferring to cut costs by getting someone else to give it a detour trail rather than pay Meyer the price it would take him to agree.

I am a bit skeptical about whether the land is in a preservation easement because we have not been hearing from a land trust. Surely a land trust would be weighing in on a paved roadway running through one of its managed lands, if there really was a preservation easement. I'll try to learn more about this if I can.

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