Another day, another delay in Harrisburg wall collapse legal proceedings

HARRISBURG, Pa (WHTM) – Another day, and another hearing on last year’s wall collapse was postponed. Meanwhile, the pile of debris sits untouched.

So what’s the holdup?

This is the fourth time this particular hearing, scheduled for Tuesday, has been delayed. The city has kept an eye on the collapse and says the ground is still moving.

And no one is exactly rushing to help.

“It always falls on deaf ears. Nobody returns my calls, nobody follows up, nobody comes to my aid,” Howard Henry said. “Almost two months later, here I am.”

Henry, who owns the auto shop on Cameron Street the wall collapsed onto, said that close to eight months ago in an interview with ABC27 at the beginning of his legal fight.

He’s since closed his business as the process drags on.

Last June, at the same time Henry was lamenting the lack of support he felt from his elected leaders, the city cited the McFarland apartments for not fixing issues after the collapse.

The hearing scheduled for Tuesday was about that citation, one of several points of conflict between parties involved.

“I understand the McFarland building owners don’t want to take responsibility for this,” Mayor Eric Papenfuse said last October, “but the wall was their property.”

That’s been the city’s position since early on in the negotiations. The McFarland argues it’s not their wall and not their responsibility to clean it up.

McFarland attorney Adam Klein asked to delay the hearing because his client is also tangled up in an appeal of the condemnation order the city issued the same day back in June.

It didn’t feel appropriate, Klein said by phone Tuesday, to deal with the citation while the separate appeal was moving forward. Briefs are due in the condemnation order case on Friday.

Tuesday’s hearing was rescheduled for mid-May, more than a year after the original collapse. A city codes officer said such postponements are common in these kinds of cases.

But Klein takes issue with more than just the orders the city handed down. At a city codes appeals board hearing in October, he told reporters “the broader issue of who’s responsible for this collapse has yet to be determined.”

It’s not clear how long it will take to wrap up the appeal process or what happens next, but it appears political leaders are becoming frustrated.

“I felt enough was enough with the delays,” Papenfuse said in October when justifying moving a different hearing up a couple months.

“This is urgent,” Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry said in November after touring Henry’s shop. “Every single day that Howard’s not in business, it’s a hardship not only on him but those families and our community.”

Those calls to action happened months ago. ABC27 reached out to the mayor’s office and Perry’s office for comment on the delays. The mayor’s office didn’t respond and Perry wasn’t available.

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