Prince George's County officials lay out plan to save some Fort Washington homes affected by landslide

FORT WASHINGTON, Md. (WJLA) – On Wednesday night, Prince George's County officials laid out a new plan that could save some, but not all, of the homes in a neighborhood where a hillside gave way two months ago.

The landslide happened in May on a section of Piscataway Drive in Fort Washington. It wiped out the road and took utility lines down.
The new plan laid out Wednesday would cost $15 million. The money would go toward fixing the road and providing a new water and sewer line—but it would also go toward buying out the six homeowners most affected by the hill failure.

"We still lose our house," said Cherie Cullen, who until being forced out by the landslide lived in one of the six homes with her family. "So, for us personally, that possibility is kind of becoming more of a reality."

Going into Wednesday's meeting, the county had already presented two basic plans.

One would cost $22 million and fix the road and slope, eventually allowing all 28 homes in the area to be lived in. Under that plan, however, everyone would have to leave their homes for six months during construction.

The other plan would involve the county spending up to $11 million to buy out all 28 homes and tear them down. Under that plan, the road would never be fixed.

Wednesday's plan would save 22 of the 28 homes, and residents of the 22 homes—most of which are being lived in again after being evacuated in May –would not have to leave their houses during construction.

Those 22 homes were not damaged by the landslide, but lost their water connections. A temporary above-ground line put in by WSSC is providing water for now, but would be likely to freeze in winter.
Garry Gardner lives in one of the 22 homes.

"It was encouraging," he said of the plan released Wednesday night. "But I think it's about 50 percent there."

Gardner and other neighbors say they want a plan that allows residents of all 28 homes to be able to live in them "before, during and after construction."

"We would all like that to happen, but I don't think that's possible," said Prince George's County executive Rushern Baker, who says saving all 28 homes without at least some displacement will be difficult.

On Wednesday night, homeowners asked the county for a closed-door meeting to discuss ideas for saving their neighborhood. It was quickly scheduled for Thursday, July 24 at 3 p.m. at the county administration building.

"We're going to go in with an open mind," Baker said of the meeting. "If they've found out something we haven't, we'll consider it."