LOGAN — After struggles and complications of getting his business up and running, Dancing Elk, owner of Red Door Internet Cafe & Arcade, has given up the hope of opening the doors at 54 E. Main St. in Logan.
“I tried to fight for what is right, but we are just going to take a different path,” Dancing Elk said in a phone interview Wednesday. “There’s just too much to deal with.”
Dancing Elk relocated his business from Spring Street to the Main Street location in hopes of opening sometime in early October. However, a stop work order was placed on the front door by Logan Fire Chief Brian Robertson last week for code violations on the building.
This left Dancing Elk in a quandary with opening his business in a timely manner. Building owner Mike Nihiser received a notice of violation on the building on or about Aug. 25 with 30 days to comply with the notice. When questioned, Nihiser stated all violations were taken care of and he knew of no pending violations.
On Tuesday, five state officials arrived to inspect the building, but Nihiser was not present so the building inspectors left, leaving Dancing Elk without any answers. David Weber Jr., who leases and lives in the building, also was not present.
During a phone interview with Nihiser, he stated he has tried to reach out to the state, but no one has returned his calls and he was unaware he was supposed to be on hand for the inspection on Tuesday. “I mean, come on now — a 24 hour span is a long time. What was I supposed to do? Camp out there until they showed up for the inspection?” he asked.
“I have called twice for Mr. Eaton,” he said. “And no one has returned my calls.”
Nihiser is hoping that with the violations against his building, that all parties involved are playing fair. “Where is all of this going to stop? They have to be fair about it,” he said.
“When someone opens a business downtown or anywhere, is the fire chief going to be fair? Are they going to be inspected like we are? My question is, are they going to make this big of a deal with all new businesses?” he questioned.
“I just don’t think they are being consistent,” Nihiser said.
While Nihiser has many questions, he stated he is waiting for someone to call him and tell him exactly what is needed to correct any existing problems with the building.
Dancing Elk was advised he now has the opportunity to appeal on the state level, but the process could take months.
According to Dancing Elk, he would need to hire a state-certified architect for the floor plans, and the plans would need to be signed off on — which could become very costly.
“I am just stymied by this,” he exclaimed. “This could cost thousands of dollars. I’m just astounded and don’t understand.”
Logan Fire Chief Brian Robertson stated it’s the State of Ohio that has the violation on the building. However, it was his office that issued the stop work order due to not having the proper permits. “It’s in the state’s hands, but anytime you change the footprint of a commercial building without state approved plans, it’s a violation of state code,” Robertson said.
Matt Mullins, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Commerce told The Logan Daily News in a phone interview, “It’s the building owner who must comply with the violation notice, not the occupants. In this case, it’s Mr. Nihiser who must comply with the change of use and occupancy violation.”
Mullins said Wednesday that Nihiser will be given an adjudication order once it has been prepared for the building code compliance. “We have received no cooperation at all from the building owner (Nihiser) during this process,” Mullins stated. “We have gone through the process and reached out to him on numerous occasions, but he has not submitted any plans for approval.”
For now, it’s another disappointment and setback for Dancing Elk, who is stuck in time warp battle with the Department of Commerce trying to enforce compliance rules with building owner Nihiser. In the meantime, Dancing Elk said, “I’m just washing my hands of the whole thing. All I wanted to do was open a business downtown and help the economy.”