Fargo leaders order demolition of run-down house after over 500 police calls
“Our neighborhood is scared,” said neighbor Richard Moorhead, who spoke in favor of the building’s demolition.
FARGO — The Fargo City Commission on Monday, Sept. 19, voted unanimously to raze a dilapidated house where police have been called hundreds of times in recent years.
The property at 924 5th St. S. has been plaguing the neighborhood near Hawthorne Elementary School for more than 20 years, according to multiple neighbors who attended the commission meeting on Monday.
When neighbor Nettie Berger moved into her home 24 years ago, she said that the neighborhood immediately warned her that it was dangerous to associate with the people in 924 5th St. S. Police gave her the same warning shortly after, according to Berger.
The building has deteriorated over the years with evidence of small fires throughout, electrical faults such as an outlet on a sink, foundation holes, slanted stairs, disconnected plumbing and around 20 other listed items for the house, garage and the lot, according to the Conditions Found Statement.
There has also been drug paraphernalia and stolen items found on the property, multiple arrests and exterior junk abatements conducted, according to the statement.
“I find garbage in my yard year round,” Berger said.
The owner of the property, Dan Curtis, did not attend the meeting.
Commissioner John Strand said he visited extensively with Curtis prior to this meeting and asked Curtis to attend to speak on behalf of his property. Strand said that he also suggested he bring community support to speak on his behalf.
Strand said he's been hearing, however, that the property's neighbors have been afraid to speak up for years.
“You folks who have spoken up," Strand said. "Let us know if anybody … puts you at risk going forward."
Inspections Director Shawn Ouradnik said the property is illegally occupied. Fargo has chosen to allow the residents to stay until the home is torn down in order to prevent possible violence, according to Ouradnik.
Police have received 550 calls to date to the property since Dec. 15, 2018, according to the commission’s memorandum on the issue. In July, the Red River Valley SWAT Team and Fargo police executed a search warrant at the home, with help from the local drug task force.
“Our neighborhood is scared,” Richard Moorhead said.
“I’ve had people peeing in my bushes in the middle of the night,” Claudia Davenport said. “It’s beyond an eyesore, it should be taken down. Get rid of it.”
The commission ordered that the building must be removed by Nov. 18.
Mayor Tim Mahoney asked that the city relook at Fargo’s ordinance so that these dangerous home situations can be moved along more quickly in the future.