The Levitt and Sons Inc. housing corporation, cited by Prince George's County officials with more than 2,500 building code violations in the 122 homes of its Northview development in Bowie, voluntarily has turned in its county building license. The action means that the firm will not be allowed to build any more homes in Prince George's.
The Connecticut-based company, which built thousands of homes in the Washington area in the 1950s and '60s, including major developments in Laural and Bowie, agreed to surrender its building permit after county authorities threatened to revoke it, Licenses and Permits director James Novak said this weekend.
Novak said Levitt will be allowed to complete six to eight homes under construction in Northview, but said the company had no plans of furthering its development in the Bowie area, where it once envisioned a building program stretching to the year 2000.
Levitt's permanent withdrawal from Prince George's marks the end of an era in the county's housing industry. Once the predominant building in the Baltimore Washington corridor, Levitt moved into the area in the late 1950s, and build 14,000 houses in the Washington metropolitan region between 1962 and 1975.
The company was responsible for large developments in the Montpelier area of Laurel and transformed Bowie from a decaying town into one of the largest cities in Maryland.
Novak said Levitt is the largest of six to eight construction companies that have given up or had their building permits revoked by the county.
"In view of all the problems at Northview," Novak said, "we felt we didn't want them doing any more work in the county. We don't need that kind of development."
Among the 3,500 building code ciolations discovered by County inspectors in Northview during the past six months were windows that were too small, improper vents in kitchens and bathrooms, roofing material cut too short and too thin, and inadequate flashing - weather-proof sealing material - between brick walls and the homes' foundation.
The reinspections began last spring after about 150 residents of the one and two-story, $48,000-$70,000 homes protested the conditions of their houses at a Prince George's town meeting.
Subsequently, a county building inspector who allegedly failed to notice the violations while inspecting 116 of the homes during 1976-77 was fired, and the county began vigorous efforts to force Levitt and its parent company, the Starrett Corporation, to correct the violations.
Starrett officials eventually agreed to send teams of its own worker from other building projects around the country to correct the violations. Novak said Saturday that about 70 percent of the violations had been corrected; but that residents' complaints were continuing and the work probably would not be finished until sometime next month.
Representatives of Levitt and Starrett, including Levitt president Edward P. Eichler and company attorney Daniel Singer of Washington consistently have refused to comment on the project or the violations.
Novaks said that the county also confronted Levitt with charges of alleged consumer fraud during the marketing of Northview Estates. Residents have charged that insulating devices promised to prospective home buyers were left out of aluminum window sashes and homes advertised as five-bedroom were delivered without carpeting in two of the rooms, whose descriptions were changed to "den" and "sewing room."
Although Novak said the county plans no further action against Levitt, provided the remaining violations in Northview are corrected, the Northview Estate Homeowners Association is still arguing with the builders.
The group's president, A. F. Simons, said Saturday that the homeowners' lawyers are negotiating with Levitt in an attempt to have insulation placed in window sashes - an alleged omission by the company that is not covered by the building code - and to have carpeting installed in two additional rooms of the homes allegedly advertised as five-bedroom.