WASHINGTON — A mediator has been asked to help settle a dispute over a piece of Bethesda land that may be home to a cemetery.
Members of the Macedonia Baptist Church of River Road said an African American cemetery that once belonged to the church exists under a parking lot on Westbard Avenue.
The developer Equity One wants to place a parking garage at the site and has agreed to have an archaeological study done to look for graves. But church members remain skeptical because the examiners would be hired by the developer.
County planners also have made an offer to hire a peer-review panel selected by the church, but a deal has not been reached.
A joint letter to Montgomery County Planning Board Chairman Casey Anderson, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and County Council President Roger Berliner said, with an agreement by all those involved, that the county would hire a mediator to help in the process.
“Because the community remains understandably concerned about the process thus far, we agree that it would be wise for us to pause for a moment, bring all the parties together to address what have been expressed and seek a solution that all can agree upon before we move forward,” the letter stated.
The county executive and council president wrote that the county would consider funding the study and the peer review after agreements are made during mediation.
“I think having a mediator is a good idea and I look forward to working with Mr. Leggett’s office to implement this,” said Montgomery County Planning Director Gwen Wright.