FARGO — After 20 years of complaints and feuds with the city, the Fargo City Commission has given a couple until July 27 to demolish a dilapidated home and clean up junk from the property in south Fargo.
Richard K. Nelson, who lives next door to the rundown home they also own at 114 15th Street S., said they use the structure for storage and asked the commissioners for more time as he hoped to demolish the home this summer and build a garage there. He also claimed a lot of the junk has been removed.
Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, though, was in no mood to compromise at Monday night's city commission meeting over the "dangerous building.".
He asked Nelson if he had any intention of fixing up the property.
Nelson said he has been cleaning up the property and wants to demolish the home to build a garage, but he needs more time.
"If you want to do something, we'll give you until the 27th (of July). If you don't do something, we'll take the house down," Mahoney said. "We've given you 20 years."
City Inspections Director Bruce Taralson said the city has spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars" dealing with Nelson and his properties, including legal fees, staff time and equipment.
The home, built in 1904, was in irreparable condition, he said, with the water shut off since 1998, heat turned off for more than 10 years and only electricity running in the home.
He said the interior, which they received permission to see with a search warrant, has extensive water damage because of the bad roof. He also said the home's lot has been used for storage of old vehicles, with complaints about the junk in the yard dating back to 2004.
In all, more than 20 complaints have been filed since 2004.
The home has a value of only $900, Taralson said, as Nelson requested a lower assessment because of the condition of the home, so tax payments have been next to nothing.
Nelson said he needed to try to find financing to help him tear down the home. He estimated it would cost him $10,000 to $15,000, but if the city demolished the home it could cost $35,000.
Mahoney said maybe there was an agency that could help the Nelsons with the property or that he should seek financing.
Mahoney and Commissioner John Strand also noted that there could be health issues with the property, so neighbors deserved something to be done.
Commissioner Dave Piepkorn said the Nelsons could still keep the property if the home was torn down by the city, which gave them some comfort. He added that he also thought Nelson needed help with his health, too, and that was part of the problem.
In another "dangerous building" case, Taralson reported that the new owner of a property at 1007 8th Ave. N. has received the necessary permits to repair the home that had fallen into disrepair and was also damaged by a fire.