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Wendy Reuer, Published April 03 2014

Neighborhood group wants West Fargo to pass 'unruly tenant' ordinance

WEST FARGO – A group of residents here are asking the City Commission to write an ordinance they believe could help them deal with a disruptive neighbor they say has been harassing them for years.

Kevin Rod recently submitted a request for the commission to pass an “unruly tenant” ordinance.

Rod said the law would “hold a landlord or absentee owner responsible for evicting a tenant that is disrupting or harassing the neighborhood,” and “protect other West Fargoans from future slumlords that would destroy neighborhoods by having bad tenants.”

He said the request made because of a man in his neighborhood who continually harasses neighbors with insults, obscene gestures and threats of violence. Rod said the police have been called many times to the neighborhood because of confrontations between the man and neighbors.

“(The man acts out) and when people have a reaction and get upset, then he calls police,” Rod said. “He is using the police to help harass his neighbors and the police are dumb enough to fall for it.”

Ron Gillund has lived in the neighborhood, Chateau Sheyenne Mobile Home Development, since 2000. He plans to attend Monday’s commission meeting to support the request along with about other 15 residents from the roughly 65-lot development.

“It’s gotten out of hand,” Gillund said. “We’re all trying to be civil neighbors here, but it’s gotten really bad in the last four years.”

Police Chief Arland Rasmussen said there have been many calls to disturbances in that neighborhood in recent years, but he said Rod’s request may not move forward.

“I don’t know that making an ordinance is going to be possible,” Rasmussen said. “The reason is that there are so many variances that happen between neighbors.”

He said what is considered a disturbance or menace to some neighbors may not be to others, and a majority consensus of each neighborhood would have to be established.

Rasmussen likened the situation at Chateau Sheyenne to an apartment building. He said it would not be fair for two or three fellow apartment dwellers to get another evicted on a whim or because of personality clashes.

Instead of requesting an ordinance, Rasmussen said the neighbors should call police immediately to report any disturbance or disorderly conduct by the man. Rasmussen said some neighbors might feel reporting the conduct is “bothering police,” but an immediate call could help officers respond to the situations better.

“We would like to get called when it’s happening and not after it has happened,” he said.

Rod said other large cities such as Boston, York, Pa., and Trenton, N.J., have similar ordinances to what he is proposing.

Residents are allowed to propose ordinances in West Fargo. The city attorney writes ordinances that must be approved by the commission before they become law.

City Attorney Jon Shockley said Thursday that he would like to hear more from the residents Monday and will need to review the proposal before commenting on its feasibility.

The commission will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530