Maryland Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs announced yesterday that Levitt Homes Inc. has agreed to pay 94 families in the trouble-plagued Northview subdivision near Bowie a total of $130,000 to compensate for water and sewer costs the homeowners were never told they would have to absorb. w
The agreement does not cover complaints by homeowners of false advertising and shoddy workmanship in many of the subdivision's homes. Those complaints are included in two separate suits filed recently by 25 Northview homeowners in Prince George's County courts.
The settlement, in which Levitt agreed to make the payments without admitting any violation of law, comes one year after county housing inspectors, reacting to homeowners' complaints, found more than 2,500 building code violations at Northview.
Later, both county officials and residents criticized as inadequate the quality of the $1 million in repair work Levitt made in the homes. Levitt then was directed to forfeit its county building license.
Sachs said that as a result of the settlement his office has dropped all charges, either pending or under investigation, against Levitt. "We have made our peace, we hope properly. But no one is forestalled from pursuing litigation," he said.
Eugene Newman, the lawyer representing 16 families in one of the suits, said yesterday that the settlement will not affect the $17 million suit charging Levitt with negligence and breach of contract.
"They have other substantial injuries in terms of construction defects," he said.
Henry Benach, chairman of the board of Starrett Housing Corporation that bought Levitt in 1978; said: "the settlement was very amiable. It was a question of opinion on both sides but sometimes it's better to be through with things than have a drawn out conversation."
Nancy Quantock, a resident of Northview since 1977 who came to yesterday's press conference, said: "I think I speak for quite a few people when I say we are quite happy with the settlement and that the state took an interest in us."
Quantock said she was told by a Northview salesman on moving to the development that her monthly mortgage payments would be $490 but, because of undisclosed water and sewer costs, but bill actually came to $530.
"When you anticipate one payment and it turns out to be a lot higher you have a hard time making a monthly budget," she said.
Henry G. Norris Jr., president of the Northview Estates Homeowners Association, said he was not satisfied with the settlement.
"I was told that I was going to pay $350 a month for 22 years. But in fact its for 35 years because of added water and sewer costs. That's $4,500 in extra costs that we weren't told about and they're only giving up $1,300," Norris said.
Another resident of Northview, A. J. Simons, put it this way: "My water and sewer bill went up $65 (from what he was told it would be) and that was mild around here. When you move into a new home, you can't take an expense like that. It takes bread and butter of the table."