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Get Out of theWay! 

Brian Robinson -- the mover who stranded a house on Providence Rd. -- is back on the streets

To stop Brian Robinson, they'll have to bankrupt him, says a man who knows him. He pauses, thinking it through. No, he says. They'd have to kill him. Despite a nationally reported debacle that left a two-story house stranded on Providence Road during rush hour last summer -- a debacle that also cost him his house-moving license -- Robinson is once again a licensed house mover in the state of North Carolina. And once again, his vigilante-style approach to moving houses -- and to life -- has led him into head-on clashes with no less than four government bureaucracies staffed by folks who are coming to realize that if they tell Robinson he's not permitted to drive around an obstacle, he'll barrel through it -- and then blame them for the wreckage. By all appearances, Robinson, 30, has a persecution complex and a rare gift for persuasion, the latter of which could explain how he recently talked a high-ranking Department of Transportation official into overturning the decision of a department director who rejected Robinson's license renewal application.

The greatest obstacle to Robinson's success appears to be his inability to anticipate the consequences of his actions, follow rules, or even comprehend why they should apply to him.

"Brian's kind of a loose cannon," said Attorney Jeff Smith, who has sued Robinson in the past. "I think he means well, but I think he kind of does what he wants to do."

Most movers would have been sidelined by the state's refusal to issue them a license. Not Robinson. He says he moved two houses illegally during the two-month period after the state refused to reissue his house-moving license.

"I only got caught for one of those," said Robinson.

The status of Robinson's house-moving license hung in limbo until late October, when he snagged a power line and took out a utility pole on Highway 84 in Union County while illegally moving a house -- all of which, Robinson says, was the fault of the NCDOT.

"The line was supposed to be hanging at 18 feet and it was hanging at 14 feet," said Robinson. "They made more of a big deal out of it than it was. But here's the thing. It would have probably never happened if we wouldn't have been so tense. If they had given me my license, if they hadn't been holding it for no reason, I wouldn't have had to move the house the way I did (illegally) and this probably wouldn't have happened."

At any rate, the house, which Robinson was delivering to a Catholic church on Sandy Porter Road, wound up stranded on the side of the highway while Robinson, busted, once again wrangled with police and transportation officials.

"I didn't pay no attention to that house on the side of the road," Robinson later said. "It wasn't my house, so I didn't care."

That is, he didn't care until the house-stranding turned out to be a stroke of luck in disguise. Robinson, who had been dealing in vain with Tammy Denning, Director of the Oversize/Overweight Permit Unit of the NCDOT, finally got so steamed he called one of her higher-ups, Chief Operations Engineer Don Goins, and arranged a meeting with him in Raleigh. After the meeting, Goins approved Robinson's new license before Robinson made it back to Charlotte.

Despite our best efforts, Creative Loafing cannot make sense of what took place between the two men during that meeting.

Robinson's version of how he got his license back goes as follows: "I told them, 'I want my damn license or I'll see you in court,' and they gave it back to me," said Robinson. "When I left, she (the NCDOT attorney) undoubtedly said, 'Look you guys are crazy, you're going to get your ass sued off, give him his license back.' That must be what happened."

What we do know is this: in an October 1 letter to Robinson, Denning wrote that the NCDOT denied his permit because an investigation into the stranding of the 4,600-square-foot house on Providence Road revealed Robinson's company "falsified documents to obtain a permit, blocked the northbound lanes of traffic for several hours on NC 16 creating major traffic delays, received a declaration of public nuisance and order of abatement from the City of Charlotte, received two invoices from NCDOT for services rendered as a result of the incident and employed the non-licensed driver which was moving the house on July 10."

Goins said he pulled an informal committee of people together that "looked at the facts and made a decision" to reinstate Robinson's license. "Under the conditions in the general statutes pertaining to this, I felt like I should renew his license," said Goins.

But no matter how hard CL pushed Goins -- who calls the wording of the state statutes governing the licensure of house movers "liberal" -- for an answer, he would only say that the facts warranted a renewal of Robinson's license.

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