Tim Carter and his daughter, Beth Thompson, are fighting what they are perceiving as an impossible battle that threatens to put their own small business, and many others, out of business.
The owner and operator of The Bulldog Saloon in Mentone, Carter said he has been visited by an inspector of Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s Fire and Building Safety division three times in the last 8 weeks. Each time he not only faced new violations, but after 4 years in business he says he is now being told to produce architectural plans for the building or likely have to close the doors.
Carter shared with StaceyPageOnline.com the results of the three fire and building code enforcement inspections that have been conducted by inspector Ed Sorensen. The violations have mostly been minor and easily corrected, said Carter. Those have included such things as installing a panel cover on an electrical box, servicing fire extinguishers and posting the maximum seating capacity for customers to see.
But there are two violations the state is ordering that Carter does not think he can afford, nor does he understand why, after 4 years in operation, are even necessary.
According to Carter, IDHS is now requiring businesses that change the use of an original structure to submit architectural drawings of the building. “This used to be Pill Box Pharmacy,” Carter explained of the saloon at 101 E. Main St., Mentone. “Since the use changed, they are telling us we have to have these drawings done. At a minimum that’s $3,000 to $4,000. We can’t afford that. If what they are telling us is true, there will be a lot of small businesses closing their doors. Small businesses are already struggling and this will only hurt them more.”
Believing he had no choice but to move forward with an architect or be shut down, Carter hired BA Martin Architects in Plymouth to write up a preliminary evaluation. “That was $500,” said Carter. “The actual plans will be $2,500 plus I’ll have to put in a sprinkler system and that’s as much as $25,000. That will put me out of business for sure. If they require all small businesses that change their use to do this, it will put everyone out of business.”
Other requirements Carter said he would need to comply with are installing handicap accessible bathrooms.
StaceyPageOnline.com has tried repeatedly to contact the IDHS for a comment, but has thus far received no response. However, according to the state statute, it appears the Bulldog Saloon may fall under slightly different regulations because it serves alcohol and because it requires amusement permits for gambling machines.
Carter said he was informed a meeting will be held at the end of this month with IDHS officials and Mentone business owners to further address the concerns and how, if at all, these matters would affect other small businesses.