Temple Hills condo complex still has no power, but residents allowed more time

Residents of Lynnhill Condominiums were evicted after Pepco and Washington Gas shut off their services Wednesday because the condo association hadn’t paid an outstanding balance worth more than $1 million.

TEMPLE HILLS, Md. — There is no electricity and no gas service, but a judge has stepped in to give residents of a Temple Hills condominium complex more time to go in and out of their homes.

The residents live in Lynnhill Condominiums, where Pepco and Washington Gas shut off their services on Wednesday because the condo association hadn’t paid an outstanding balance of more than $1 million. 

When the gas and lights went out, Prince George’s County deemed the buildings unfit for human habitation and gave residents 72 hours to remove their belongings before the building was sealed off.

“At least for the moment, they can’t lock the doors,” said Maryland Sen. C. Anthony Muse.

Muse joined residents on Thursday as they took their case to the county and then a Prince George’s County Circuit Court judge.

In a judge’s chambers, attorneys with the Maryland attorney general’s office asked Judge Leo Green Jr. for two temporary injunctions: One injunction sought to give residents more time to be in their homes; the other aimed to get the power and gas back on for a short time.

In the end, only the eviction deadline was extended until Friday of next week, giving residents more time to figure out what is next.

“Thank God, they’re going to give us an extension, so that lifts a little bit of the worry off,” resident Vickie Wishard said. Wishard added that she has nowhere else to live and plans to stay in her condo, even with the power and gas off.

“I am still saddened for the people of Lynnhill who have nowhere to go. Yeah, we can come back in the building, but who wants to be in the dark and the cold?” said James Braxton, who has lived at the complex for 10 years.

Before the judge’s decision to give them more time, many residents took time off work to rent moving trucks and clear out their condos before the 72 hours were up,

“It’s a real drag,” said Matthew Newsome, who just began renting a condo at the complex in August. While rain fell, Newsome loaded his furniture and personal belongings into the back of a pickup truck, unsure where he’ll end up next.

County officials were on the scene to help residents find other accommodations. While many residents are hoping to see a deal brokered to get the utilities back on, Renee Ensor Pope, with the county’s department of social services, said the county is planning as if the power and gas won’t be restored.

“We’re proceeding as if it’s not and we’re working to help the residents through whatever that means for them,” Ensor Pope said.

Both Pepco and Washington Gas have said they can’t disclose how much is owed by the condo association or discuss the case.

“The disconnection of electric service to any of our customers is a last resort that we only take if all other options have been exhausted,” said Marcus Beal of Pepco in a statement.

Next Wednesday, all those involved, including the utility companies, will speak together by phone, said Muse, who had heard from the judge. The state senator also hopes a deal to restore the utilities can be reached and presented in court next Friday.

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