North Fargo business owner allowed to stay open after dispute with city

The Fargo City Commission authorizes Mayor Tim Mahoney to negotiate with a small business owner to avoid shutting down his business and a potential lawsuit.

FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) — The Fargo City Commission calls on the mayor to reach a resolution with John Bultman on the status of his North Fargo business.

“There’s been a lot of wasted time on my part to chase this and chase that and follow up. Restless nights of thinking, ‘What’s going to happen?’ and all that. After 52 years of collecting things, selling things and getting robbed three times, it’s like, what next?,” says John Bultman.

Bultman has been running John’s Repair for more than 40 years.

The city sent him a notice of a zoning violation in December saying he had until the end of March to stop doing business or pay a daily one thousand dollar fine and face possible legal action.

The city argued since Bultman sold the property, he’s no longer protected by a zoning agreement dating back several decades.

The non-profit Institute For Justice has been working with Bultman pro bono and says in a statement “Stripping him of his grandfathered status would violate his constitutional rights and break Fargo’s own city ordinances.”

In a letter to assistant city attorney Alissa Farol in early February, the non-profit cited Fargo city code saying changes of ownership are permitted provided no changes in the nature of the agreement are made.

Bultman says he hoped the city did not have to get lawyers involved but is relieved they seem to be doing the right thing.

“It was a waste of time by the city because that’s what I ask them for originally when I wanted to stay until I turned 70 and they didn’t want to do that. Now it came down to this and all the wasted money that the city spends,” said Bultman.

The city says Bultman’s property received complaints in 2003 due to expanded and intense use of
his property violating his granted permission in 1984.

The city says the grandfathered status was no longer in effect in 2003 indicating the property remains illegal today.

Categories: Business, North Dakota News