Residents of condo complex file lawsuit $3.5 million suit alleges developer's townhouses are shoddy and unsafe

November 27, 1997|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

Residents of an Elkridge townhouse complex are suing a well-known Howard County developer, alleging that a 74-unit complex he built is shoddy and that money residents paid toward upkeep of the homes has vanished.

The Council of Unit Owners of Springleaf Condominiums alleges that developer L. Earl Armiger -- past president of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce and the Maryland Home Builders Association -- built homes that do not meet industry standards and imperil the lives of residents because of inadequate fire protection.

Armiger denied the allegations. The development passed all required inspections, he said, and the homes are good values.

He said he has made many of the requested repairs, but the council has never provided him with a list of specific problems to fix.

"I have no idea what their problem is," Armiger said in a telephone interview. "Going to court never solves anything, [just] makes the attorneys rich. I certainly didn't gain this reputation by trying to avoid my responsibilities."

Named in the lawsuit are Armiger's companies, Ambassador Homes of Maryland Inc., ODC Club II Inc. and Armiger Management Co.; his son, L. Scott Armiger; his wife, Mary T. Armiger; and James W. Miller Inc., the construction company that built the development.

The lawsuit, which was filed in late September in Howard County Circuit Court, seeks $3.5 million in damages.

Cathern Burkhardt, property manager for the condominiums, said a photocopied list of all repairs requested by the residents was given to Scott Armiger about two months ago.

The lawsuit alleges that the development has serious drainage problems that caused pools of water to collect outside homes and turned sidewalks in winter into sheets of ice. The townhouses have common attic space with no protection to help prevent a fire from spreading house to house, the lawsuit states.

The residents also allege that $14,000 in condominium fees they paid to the developer for long-term upkeep has vanished.

The discovery was made last spring when the management company was changed from Armiger Management Corp. to David O. Feldmann Inc., the lawsuit states.

Armiger said the money was in place when he turned over the management company. "Every bit of money they put in was put into the condo association," he said. "We turned over all the reserves" for long-term upkeep.

Miller, the builder, said that he did nothing wrong in constructing the buildings and that he holds the developer responsible.

"It's a mess," he said. "I half don't blame [the residents]. The developer was very unresponsive."

Pub Date: 11/27/97

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