The U.S. Supreme Court refused yesterday to review a lower court ruling that allows the District of Columbia government to force property owners to pay for repair of broken water mains under public streets and sidewalks outside their property lines.
The court let stand without comment on earlier ruling by the D.C. Court of Appeals.
Yesterday's Supreme Court action ends the class litigation that was brought by Gilbert Hahn Jr. on behalf of all District citizens affected by the policy, and a civic group. North Washington Neighbors, Inc.
The D.C. Superior Court Judge Theodore Newman ruled in 1975 [WORD ILLEGIBLE] the city's billing policy on water mains was illegal when the case was before him at the trial court level.
However, Newman's ruling was overturned in December, 1976, by the D.C. Court of Appeals.
The appeals court found that the city, under a 19th century police regulation, has authority to require property owners to pay for the repairs. The court suggested that the issues should be confronted through the legislative process rather than in the courts.
Since 1971, nearly 700 city property owners have had to pay about $743,000 to repair water pipes that broke under public streets through no fault of their own.