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Owners of dangerous Fargo home say city misrepresented them as 'slum lords'

Family who also owns apartment building next door criticizes process, being misrepresented

305 University Drive.jpg
This boarded up home at 305 University Drive is slated to be demolished in the coming weeks. The family who owns the home also has the apartment building seen in the background and hopes a developer may some day eye both properties for a new development. Barry Amundson / The Forum

FARGO — Jesse Haddeland has been nothing but frustrated with the city as they dealt with his dangerous home along University Drive South in Fargo.

He is proceeding with plans and is working on bids to have the boarded-up structure at 305 University Drive South across the street from Bethany Retirement Living torn down by Oct. 1, as ordered by city commissioners.

However, Haddeland and his father, Peter, don't live in Colorado where several notices to have the home demolished or repaired were sent earlier this year.

Haddeland lives in Fargo, while his father is a lifelong resident of the Waubun and Mahnomen, Minn., area.

"I'm doing this for my father," he said about raising concerns regarding the process they had to go through with the city inspections department and the City Commission.

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In criticism on Facebook, Haddeland said, they were referred to as "slum lords." His father, he said, has been a respected community banker.

Once a city inspector finally got in contact with Haddeland, he was told he had 20 days to tear the building down.

He received an extension, but he had to hire a lawyer to address the City Commission to ensure it was given.

The inspections department often goes ahead with having severely dilapidated or dangerous homes declared "dangerous buildings" by the City Commission to make sure there's a firm deadline for removal of the structures.

Haddeland's other complaints, though, are about errors in the paperwork presented to the City Commission before their decision.

He said he and his family, who also own an apartment building next door, purchased the building two years ago from a mortgage company after getting frustrated with the condition of the property and squatters having parties on the site after it was abandoned.

There was also a fire in a garage behind the building that he said scorched and knocked out glass on their apartment building.

Since 2012 or 2013, he said, he discussed purchasing the property with the previous owner because he felt it was falling into disrepair. He was turned down, and that owner apparently abandoned the building, he said, leaving it in the hands of the mortgage company which hired a preservation company to help with the property.

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Nothing was done.

Haddeland and his father were finally able to buy the property two years ago through a foreclosure sale.

He believes those issues weren't discussed or reported and were misrepresented in city reports and in a story based on those reports that appeared in The Forum.

The city report said there was a history of squatters, graffiti, a broken roof drainage system, a hole in the foundation and that the home was unsecured.

While the details of the report accurately reflected happenings on the property over the years, Haddeland said much of it happened before they bought the property, so the report painted them in a false light.

He said there have been no squatters since they took over, as they secured the building.

Haddeland said they had the same goal as the city: to tear the building down.

"I wish the city would have been more flexible and understanding," he said about the process and the decision of having to even reach the City Commission.

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His goal is to possibly sell the lot and his apartment building next door to a developer to improve the area along busy University Drive.

"I'd like to see something nice built there," he said.

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