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County Response in Hagerstown Cemetery Controversy

"It's a violation with the 1966 preservation act when you notify the county that you have a historic property and you have a nomination filed and you have a historic easement on the whole property including the cemetery they're not supposed to do anything to that cemetery," said Roger Brown, homeowner.

HAGERSTOWN, Md. - We have new developments in the story about a Hagerstown homeowner who wants an unmarked cemetery to get recognition and be preserved but believes county waterlines could be running through it. On Friday, Washington County officials shared their side of this story.

Off Broadfording Road, there a 270-year old unmarked cemetery that is the believed burial site of wagon maker, Peter Studebaker and nearly 100 other people

Hagerstown resident, Roger Brown and archivist, Teri Magnate, have been working together to preserve and protect it.

"It's a violation with the 1966 preservation act when you notify the county that you have a historic property and you have a nomination filed and you have a historic easement on the whole property including the cemetery they're not supposed to do anything to that cemetery," said Roger Brown, homeowner.

They worry that water lines were put through the cemetery. Last year, new lines were needed for two nearby homes and a permit was issued. Water lines were later installed but not by the county.

"From what I understood the people had no water and had been that way for at least a few weeks so they were in a position where the waterline service was a requirement and it was installed on their property by an independent contractor," said Rob Slocum, Washington County, Director of Planning and Engineering.

County officials are aware of Brown's concerns and say they too value historical property. But in this case, there is no official documentation to support claims there is a cemetery.

"The last thing we want to do is damage any cemetery or historic stab however because there was no evidence of it. And still today we don't see any evidence of it, to install water lines so a property owner can have service is not under our purview to restrict," said Slocum.

For Brown and Magnate, they only way to preserve this piece of history is to move the waterlines.

"Because if they break they will completely undermine that foundation and if they break a long the side where the cemetery is we don't know what damage it's going to do to the bodies or the things that may be buried in that cemetery," said Teri Magnate, Archivist.

Brown says he has filed a lawsuit against his two neighbors who installed the waterlines for interference with historical property and plans on filling one against the county as well.

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