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City stops controversial house-moving company

Michael Trevino won't be moving another house in Fargo in the near future, city officials decided Wednesday after a recent move left residents and utility companies fuming.

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Michael Trevino won't be moving another house in Fargo in the near future, city officials decided Wednesday after a recent move left residents and utility companies fuming.

"We're simply not going to let that happen," -- unless Trevino comes up with a different route and can pay his outstanding bills, said Jim Gilmour, planning director.

Trevino could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

On Monday and Tuesday, Trevino's company moved a 100-year-old house from 818 4th St. S. to 373 7th Ave. S.

The move was riddled with glitches. Officials are reviewing city ordinances to prevent such moves in the future, Gilmour said.

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To get a permit, house movers have to arrange for utility workers to remove any obstructing electricity or cable lines, said Ron Strand, inspections administrator for the city of Fargo.While Trevino did obtain a permit to move the house on Jan. 10, he did not get approval for Monday's move, Strand said.

At the last minute, the route was changed when city officials realized the house was too big to make some of the planned turns, said John Retterath, truck regulatory officer with the Fargo Police Department.

James Pound, technical operations manager for Cable- One, said Tuesday about 1,000 subscribers would lose their cable access during the move.

Normally, the cable company notifies its customers well in advance of such a disruption, Pound said.

But the cable company couldn't notify anyone because they didn't know the route ahead of time, he said.

Trevino also failed to get the route pre-approved by the forestry department, Gilmour said.

On Wednesday, the whir of chainsaws resounded through Island Park as workers took down two trees that were pruned beyond saving during Tuesday's house move.

Workers pruned the trees in preparation for the move, but had to cut them further to get the house through, said Steve Harles of Harles Tree Service.

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The tree-trimming was done properly, said city forester Scott Liudahl. Trees are occasionally cut down during house moves. The city will continue using Harles' services, he said.

Trevino is responsible for replanting two trees for every one cut down, Harles said.

The cost for the replacement trees will probably amount to about $2,000, he said.

Trevino, who has a number of outstanding debts from a failed house moving business, also has to pay hourly rates for forestry and utility workers.

Trevino didn't have enough equipment or people to do the job properly, Retterath said. Movers usually come with big trucks full of equipment that might be needed.

Normally, movers put up "no parking" signs on streets a house will travel at least 24-hours before the move, he said.

Instead, two wreckers showed up Monday night to move parked cars that happened to be in the way.

Trevino should not have started the move at 5 p.m. Monday afternoon, Retterath said. A move at night is terribly dangerous, he said.

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Retterath, who has been involved with house moving operations for 30 years, said, "This one was more disorganized than any one I've ever dealt with before."

Trevino "didn't follow any of the ordinances," Gilmour said.

Trevino also neglected to ask Fargo homeowner Bill Rentfrow if he could heavily prune a tree on his property.

Rentfrow was upset Monday night when he came home to find a large pile of branches in his yard and half his tree's canopy lopped off.

A house mover has a responsibility to ask people before altering their trees, Liudahl said.

Now that the green-trimmed house is on the desired lot, Gilmour said the city is concerned no foundation was poured prior to the move.

If the house is propped up for too long, it will become unstable, unsafe and the city will have to tear it down, Gilmour said.

Trevino said Wednesday he planned to move another structure -- at 1337 Broadway -- to Glyndon, Minn., in the next couple of weeks.

His permit to do this has expired, Gilmour said.

"We don't want (Trevino) clear-cutting Broadway," he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Lisa Schneider at (701) 241-5529

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