Shared from the 6/6/2019 Daily American eEdition

Roof Garden residents file class action suit against park’s owner


Staff photo by Matthew Toth

Water from a second line break is shown underneath 176 E. Arlington Drive Wednesday at Roof Garden Acres in Somerset Township. Residents of the trailer park are looking to the courts to deal with their water woes.

Roof Garden Acres residents are looking to the courts to deal with water woes that still need to be addressed by the mobile home park’s owners.

More than 170 residents are part of a class action complaint against High Top LLC claiming it failed to properly maintain the park’s water system. The park along Stoystown Road is owned by High Top and Thomas Mongold, owner of Divinity Investments and nearby Cherry Lane Estates.

“Regarding the cause of the outages, (residents) were informed by Defendent’s maintenance person that there had been a rupture in the Roof Garden water main line that connects to the Somerset Township Municipal Authority water line,” court documents state.

While the lawsuit mentions a line break in late March that left water barely trickling out of residents’ faucets for almost two weeks, it also states there has been a history of water main breaks since 2016.

“Defendent’s lot agreements with residents provide that (High Top) is responsible for maintaining the water system that provides water to the residents,” the lawsuit states.

The suit states that failure to provide continual and adequate water service to the trailer park is a breach of contract. Residents, who are represented by the Community Justice Project, are seeking “qualified professionals” to inspect and fix the line, at High Top’s expense. Residents also want a total rent refund for the month of March.

Roof Garden residents pay $350 per month to rent a lot, plus a $17 flat fee for water service. Residents also pay additional charges for water usage over 1,000 gallons per month. There are 65 occupied trailers in the 105-lot mobile home park.

Resident Amanda Housel said residents are coming together to deal with these and other issues, including potholes throughout the park.

“We’re all pitching in our own money and doing this,” she said.

Neither Divinity Investments officials nor Mongold returned telephone calls to the Daily American Wednesday.

In May, Cherry Lane Estates residents joined Somerset Borough’s lawsuit against Divinity Investments, which is also owned by Mongold’s partner Bob Hickey. The park was declared a public nuisance in December, and Divinity was ordered to pay $300,000 in past-due water bills and to clean up 14 fire-damaged and 47 dilapidated trailers within 90 days.

Cherry Lane has been the site of 14 arsons and two attempted arsons since May 2018. Police also believe fires set on Sept. 18, 2016, and July 5, 2017, both at 122 Gary Lane, were set by the same individual, who remains at large.

As of May 10, High Top owed $299,5618 to the Somerset Township Municipal Authority for unpaid bills at the mobile home park.

In 2013, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority amended its class action complaint with Orrstown Bank in federal court. The suit claims members of the Shippensburg-based bank lied to SEPTA and other investors to buy Orrstown stock.

The complaint states that the bank’s loan committee gave preferential treatment to Mongold and Hickey’s LLCs. Witnesses claim loans were approved despite the developers’ bad credit information.

“In 2010 alone, Orrstown made loans totaling over $9.7 million to the Chambersburg Developers’ related entities,” court documents state. “By late 2010, the Bank’s Loan Committee approved in total over $21 million in loans to the Chambersburg Developers’ related entities.”

According to court documents, the bank’s loan lending limit in 2010 was $19 million.

“Indeed, throughout the entire period that the Chambersburg Developers were borrowing from Orrstown, they had borrowed millions of dollars from the two other banks, Susquehanna Bank and Farmers and Merchants Trust Company,” court documents state.

Witnesses stated that bank officials, including then-Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Embly, realized as early as 2010 that the developers had already went over their legal limit and began exploring whether they needed to do “work arounds” to restructure the loans, according to court documents.

“From (witnesses’) observations, the Loan Committee over-extended the Bank and violated the Loan Policy because, in Embly’s words, ‘Bob needs this,’” court documents state.

SEPTA’s court case with Orrstown Bank is ongoing.

Residents of Roof Garden, including Housel, said they have been calling Mongold about park conditions but have never received a response.

“It seems like everyone is getting the blame except for Tom,” she said.

See the civil complaints involving Roof Garden, High Top and Divinity Investments at

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