The following were among actions taken at Tuesday's meeting of the Montgomery County Council. For more information, call 217-7900.
TAKOMA PARK EVICTIONS -- County officials briefed council members on plans to enforce a law that will force the eviction of hundreds of Takoma Park tenants whose apartments violate zoning laws permitting only single-family houses. Eviction proceedings will begin in less than two months.
Faced with a post-World War II population boom in the area and an acute housing shortage, homeowners and landlords divided many single-family houses into multiple dwellings. The Takoma Park apartments, which were never permitted under zoning regulations, were tolerated by Montgomery County officials until homeowners -- concerned about poorly maintained rental housing -- sued the county to enforce its own zoning laws.
Under pressure from that lawsuit, the council in 1978 passed a law giving the owners of these units 10 years to convert them back to single-family houses. March 23 is the deadline to begin eviction proceedings, and amid complaints that neither the county nor the landlords has adequately notified the tenants, county officials are now wrestling with how to enforce the law.
Estimates of the number of tenants affected by the law vary considerably. At the council briefing, County Department of Environmental Protection Director John L. Menke said the county estimates about 150 people will be displaced. Takoma Park Mayor Stephen J. Del Giudice has said the number of affected tenants could be two to three times above county projections, since many of the illegal units were never registered with the county in 1978. Tenant activists say their door-to-door surveys indicate that as many as 1,000 people could be displaced.
County officials plan to assist tenants -- many of whom still have not received notice from landlords -- with relocation and moving costs. No one will be forced out before May or June, Menke said, because of the large task of inspecting the 87 buildings registered as having illegal units and the state requirement that tenants be given 60 days' notice prior to eviction.