Judge to mediate slope failure battle

FORT WASHINGTON, Md. (WUSA9) -- A judge said no to installing vibration meters at the Piscataway Drive homes Prince George's County sued for on Friday.

These are the homes involved in the catastrophic Fort Washington Slope Failure incident in May 2014.

Installing vibration meters on the Piscataway Drive properties was a needed step to start construction on June 8th. The county has plans to stabilize the slope as well as make repairs to the area's watermains and Piscataway Drive roadway.

The county judge declining the request to install vibration meters, potentially halts plans to start construction next Monday.

Last week, the county sued four homeowners for three properties on Fort Washington's Piscataway Drive in an attempt to acquire the homes and have them demolished after the homeowners refused to accept buyout offers. The homeowners involved said the offers were below fair market value.

Cherie Cullen is one of the homeowners who attended Monday's hearing.

"It's as bad as you think, I mean, it's a nightmare," said Cullen. She and her husband had to relocate with their two children and are now paying rent on top of the mortgage they still owe for their essentially condemned homes. They are not the only ones.

"At least we're being heard finally. I mean I don't think we've really, truly been hard up until this point," added Cullen.

The county used FEMA money to make offers on the properties they are now suing for.

Two attorneys for the county said they cannot comment on current litigation but told a judge on Monday, the county will not offer any more money than what was provided through FEMA.

Joseph Suntum is representing four of the Piscataway Drive homeowners.

Acknowledging the county's want to demolish his clients' homes, Suntum said, "We have no dispute that the county has the authority under Eminent Domain to do that, but under Eminent Domain our property owners have a Constitutional right to be paid just compensation and the county does not want to do that."

Suntum told WUSA9 the lawsuit is essentially an ultimatum for his clients to either take the offer or lose their homes without any compensation.

The county's attorneys argued the county has a responsibility to the other 22-other homes affected, to begin construction and repairs next week.

There is no set schedule for when both parties will appear in court again. They're expected to discuss scheduling with a judge Tuesday afternoon.

RELATED LINKS:

Fort Washington homeowner pleads for help

No easy options for Md. neighborhood's landslide


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment