What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Court: Minneapolis must pay to fix crumbling retaining wall

Posted by: Bill McAuliffe Updated: December 18, 2013 - 4:54 PM

The city of Minneapolis is now facing a possible $90,000 repair bill to fix a retaining wall it's been trying to get the homeowner to fix for five years.

The Wednesday ruling by Hennepin County District Court Judge Denise Reilly ends a five-year fight between the city and homeowner Elizabeth Howell, whose home on a Fulton neighborhood corner is lined by a long, cracked and leaning retaining wall along the sidewalk around W. 48th Street.

The ruling could be expensive for the city, said Howell's attorney, Kristin Rowell. In the past five years alone, hundreds of homeowners in the city have received citations from the city to fix retaining walls in similar circumstances to Howell's, she said. But many may be the city's obligation, and not the property owners', Rowell said.

City attorney Susan Segal said the implications may not be widespread, however. Similar cases in the future will likely be "archaelogical explorations," involving searches of public records going back many decades to when neighborhoods were first developed, without clear evidence of why walls were built or for whose benefit.

Above: 2011 Star Tribune file photo of Elizabeth Howell (photo by Elizabeth Flores)

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