Johnson battles homeowner's association in court
In court papers filed in Prince George's County District Court, the Kettering Community Association is asking for about $1,500 in late assessments and legal fees. The property, in the 10800 block of Bennington Drive, has been owned by the Johnson's and rented out for decades, the county executive said.
Johnson said the lawsuit is unfounded, that he has always paid his dues to the group and that he has chosen to fight in court rather than pay up in order to stand on principle.
"We had this house for 30 years, paid our dues consistently for 30 years," Johnson said in an interview Friday. "They claim we didn't pay. ... It's only $150 (per year). The next thing I know I get a bill for $1,800 or more ... and [got a notice] they are going to foreclose on my house [from] some lawyer. I got pretty mad. I hired a lawyer representing me. ... My thing is, look, I'm not just going to give my money away. ... Because you're the county executive, people feel like you're going to pay just to avoid being embarrassed. ... I paid the lawyer more than the claim is for. Sometimes you just have to stand up."
Johnson is term-limited and in his final year of office. His wife, Leslie E. Johnson, is running for County Council in District 6. Calls to the lawyer for the plaintiff, Torin K. Andrews, and to the community association were not returned. The case is due back in court Aug. 6.
In court papers, the HOA stated that assessments are paid "for maintenance of common areas and facilities," and that the Johnsons have "failed to remit payment for the assessments due, despite repeated requests to do so."
Johnson said the incident is emblematic of a pattern of dealings between HOAs and residents in the county.
"There's a pattern that's been really frustrating for us," he said. "You have these developers that come in and they build condominium associations and homeowners associations, but the way the bylaws are drafted, the citizens of Prince George's County never take control over their own communities."
July 16, 2010; 2:44 PM ET
Categories: Jonathan Mummolo , Prince George's County
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