Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Owning Up: McFarland admits owning collapsed wall.

Howard Henry stands in front of the collapsed wall that destroyed his business.

The owners of the McFarland Apartments have admitted ownership of a retaining wall that collapsed last year, sending a mountain of debris onto a tire repair shop.

In a court filing today, McFarland LP said its own title search and survey indicated that it owned the century-plus-old concrete wall, which had helped to stabilize the ground near an apartment building and parking lot that it also owned.

In May 2016, following heavy rains, the wall collapsed, spilling tons of dirt, debris and a parked car onto the business below, Howard Tire & Auto on S. Cameron Street. Owner Howard Henry tried to stay open, but was forced to shut down and lay off his dozen employees a few months later.

“The collapsed wall is indeed owned by the petitioner,” Judge Lawrence F. Clark Jr. stated in the court order.

The conclusion came after a survey by Conshohocken-based Biscon Geospatial and a historical review by Harrisburg historian Jeb Stuart, according to court documents.

This was the first time McFarland LP has publicly admitted ownership of the wall. In fact, the apartment building owners previously had denied owning the wall and had been fighting a subsequent condemnation order for its apartment building issued by the city.

This acceptance of ownership appeared to finally allow a resolution of the case to begin.

The order states that the parties have agreed that, as a first step, the site must be secured. So, Howard will erect a security fence around his property, at McFarland’s expense, to prevent trespassers.

Moreover, McFarland and the city have 10 days to agree to a “stipulation of facts” and a proposed solution so the city can enforce its condemnation order.

Separately, Henry in May filed a civil lawsuit against McFarland LP and its parent firm, Sharon Hill-based Primavera Properties, in addition to two PennDOT contractors that worked on the Mulberry Street Bridge rehabilitation project, seeking damages related to the wall collapse.

Author: Lawrance Binda

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