Shannon and Luchs, one of the area's largest real estate managers, has been cleared of charges that the firm evicted three families from the Eldorado Towers Apartments in Silver Spring because the families are black.
A Montgomery County hearing examiner's decision exonerating Shannon and Luchs of the racial discrimination charge was adopted last week by the three-member housing panel of the county's Human Relations Commission.
The complaint was filed in 1977 by William Armstrong, Michelle West Ward and Richard and Cynthia Alston, who contended that they were among 15 families--12 of whom are black--who were issued eviction notices 17 days after Shannon and Luchs took over the management of Eldorado Towers.
The commission ruled in November 1978 and in January 1979 that there were reasonable grounds to believe that discrimination had occurred.
When the two sides could not resolve their differences, the case was taken before John T. Horton, the housing panel and hearing examiner, who ruled last week that the firm had "legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for the issuance of notices to terminate. . . not based upon race . . . . "
Elizabeth Burke, a former employee at the apartment complex, testified that she was told to discriminate against blacks inquiring about vacancies and to code their applications with a minus sign.
Attorneys for Shannon and Luchs, which no longer manages Eldorado Towers, contended that evictions were meant to ease overoccupancy and to remove tenants with destructive children or who paid their rent late or not at all.
George D. Ruttinger, attorney for the complainants, said his clients plan to appeal the decision to the Montgomery County Circuit Court.
A civil suit, seeking monetary damages against the firm, is scheduled to be heard in U. S. District Court in Baltimore on May 10.