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The City of Fargo’s Inspections Department Moves Forward with Demolition of Dangerous Building

Multiple issues related to extensive water damage, foundation and structural stability, wiring and overall cleanliness and habitability determined the home to be unsafe

01/04/2023 11:30 a.m.

This morning, The Fargo Police Department assisted The City of Fargo’s Inspection Department in clearing a residence at 924 5th Street South of all inhabitants, which were in violation of a court order declaring the structure unsuitable for habitation. The property owner agreed to meet with City staff this morning but did not do so and law enforcement was utilized to clear the residence. More than ten people were removed from the residence. The property owner was detained and arrested for violation of court order prohibiting the occupation of the residence.

The Inspections Departments and its contractors will now work to secure the structure, engage in the abatement of junk strewn about the exterior of the residential parcel and undertake asbestos testing. The residence will be demolished within the next few weeks.

The Inspections Department extensively evaluated the residence located at 924 5th St. S. and identified multiple issues related to extensive water damage, foundation and structural stability, wiring and overall cleanliness and habitability. Inspections violations date as far back as 2002. As a result, the residence was labeled a dangerous building in July 2022 and the property was cleared marked with notices. In an effort to uphold public safety, a perimeter of up to six feet in height was erected around the property. No one was to be entering the property or to continue living in the residence.

The property owner, Danial J. Curtis, was allowed 30 days to obtain the necessary permits to improve the residence and bring into compliance with City Code. As part of this process, the owner was required to show improvement plans and receive approval from The City of Fargo. The homeowner did not meet these requirements. He was also afforded 30 days to formally appeal the designation; this did not occur.

After 30 days of these actions remaining uncompleted, The City of Fargo Inspections Department presented the residence to the Fargo City Commission as a dangerous building during the September 19, 2022, City Commission Meeting. In a 5-0 vote, it was approved to designate this a dangerous building and the City Attorney was directed to prepare findings of fact in this matter and order the removal of the structures. Since the homeowner failed to do so, The City of Fargo exercised its ability to remove the structure from the property.

According to The City of Fargo Ordinance 21-0403, “All ‘dangerous buildings’ within the terms of § 21-0401 are hereby declared to be public nuisances and shall be repaired, vacated or demolished as hereinbefore and hereinafter provided.”

The North Dakota Supreme Court denied Danial J. Curtis’s appeal and The City of Fargo was granted a nuisance abatement. As a result, the Inspections Department collaborated with The Fargo Police Department to clear the structures and begin the demolish process.

Fargo Police Chief Dave Zibolski remarked, “All departments at The City of Fargo aim to foster safe neighborhoods and today’s coordinated operations display strong teamwork and collaboration among City departments.”

“The City of Fargo has afforded many opportunities for Mr. Curtis to complete the necessary steps to update this home and make it a safe structure. Unfortunately, the steps required have not been completed and action was taken today to ensure the safety of our residents.” Says Inspections Director Shawn Ouradnik.