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Council moves to take back damaged house

Officials say buyer didn’t meet deadline for repairs

The Fort Dodge City Council on Monday moved to again take possession of a fire-damaged house and adjacent garage after its current owner failed to meet a deadline for bringing it into full compliance with building codes.

After being served with formal notice of the council’s action, Rod Mullins, of Fort Dodge, will have 30 days to bring the property at 801 S. 15th St. into code compliance. If he doesn’t, the city will assume ownership of the property.

Mullins bought the property from the city in November 2017 for $30,001. The terms of the deal required him to have it in compliance with all codes within 18 months. That deadline passed on May 30, and he asked the council for an extension until December 2021.

During the council meeting, Mullins acknowledged that he did not meet the deadline.

”I have been operating in good faith,” he said.

He said he has done much of the work himself, and has spent $15,000 on it.

In a letter to city officials, he wrote that he is converting the three-car garage into a three-bedroom house. He wrote that he has the framing and plumbing for that job mostly done. He also wrote that he has removed most of the debris from the main house.

”We’ve got to get these projects done,” Councilman Dave Flattery said.

He added that the proposed extension was ”too much for me.”

Councilman Dean Hill asked Mullins if he knew what he was ”getting into” when he made his offer for the property. Mullins replied that he did.

He said his request for an extension was a ”reasonable approach.”

The majority of the council was unmoved by his argument. The council voted 5-1, with one member abstaining, to begin the process of taking back the property.

Council members Neven Conrad, Terry Moehnke, Lydia Schuur, Flattery and Hill voted yes. Councilman Jeff Halter voted no. Councilman Kim Alstott abstained, saying Mullins is one of his friends.

The house was damaged by fire in the fall of 2015. The entire property was declared unfit for human habitation in May 2016 after city inspectors learned that the residents of the house had moved into the garage, which had no running water.