By Susan Singer-Bart
The Olney Gazette
The Homeland Village Homeowners Association is close to settling a seven year old dispute with the Artery Organization over leaky roofs and other structural defects in the condominium complex.
Some of the units have had roof problems from the beginning, and other Homeland Village residents only discovered their roof problems after the recent blizzard, homeowners told the Gazette.
Vera Simpson moved into her unit Jan. 17, 1987. She discovered she had a roof problem two days later. Her ceiling buckles with each rain and she has to punch holes in it to let the water release before the ceiling collapses.
Seven years ago, the Homeland Village Homeowners Association filed a class action suit against the condominiums’ builders, the Artery Organization. Anthony Adams, who manages the condominium complex, said lawyers are close to reaching a settlement.
The lawsuit alleges three main problems with the buildings – water seeps in from improperly sealed siding, windows and doors; the roofs were built with a fire retardant plywood that has deteriorated through time after exposure to summer heat; and balconies were improperly attached to the units – according to Beau Brincefield, of J. Hartnett and Associates, who represent the homeowners’ association.
“I can’t understand how Montgomery County inspectors can pass stuff like this,” said Simpson. “These buildings should have never passed inspection.”
Brincefield said the homeowners’ association hired an engineering firm to examine the eight buildings in the 144 unit complex. He did not know precisely when the engineering firm examined the buildings.
“The engineers instructed us not to put heavy objects on the decks.’ said Simpson.
A Circuit Court terms of the proposed settlement agreements said Leonard Goodman, attorney, for the Artery Organization.
The homeowners’ association filed suit against the Artery Organization in 1989. Artery brought eight to 10 suppliers and subcontractors into the suit, said Brincefield.
The settlement terms do not include an admission of liability, said Goodman. Artery went out of the home building business a few years ago, he said.
“I felt it was better for my client to settle the case because of the certainty that comes with settlement and the ability to get the money now,” said Brincefield. He said the potential for the defendant to appeal a judgment or the defendant’s inability to pay should be considered in accepting a settlement. “Where you can get a reasonably adequate number from a defendant and they agree to pay promptly, you are frequently better off taking that number,” said Brincefield.
The settlement amount will allow the homeowners association to repair all defects, he said. The homeowners association, board of directors has approved the settlement terms, said Brincefield.
One building has already been given a new roof and Simpson was told her building will get one as soon as the weather permits.