Fultondale restaurant says city is playing hardball - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Fultondale restaurant says city is playing hardball

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FULTONDALE - AL -

"April first of this year we've been here 21 years," John Douglas said.

Douglas and his wife, Linda, were standing in their livelihood, Tuesday.

Their business, Home Field Sports Grill has been out of business since the April tornado.

They want to reopen...but they can't.

"We don't agree with their interpretation of their code that they're giving to us," Linda Douglas said.

The city's code says if more than 50 percent of the current replacement value is damaged then the building has to be brought up to code. Douglas says 50 percent would be a little more than $500,000 and says the damage to his restaurant is nowhere near that.

But according to city inspector, Ed Hawkins, the damage is at 51 percent.

"We don't have structural plans, life safety plans or plumbing plans," Hawkins said in a phone interview. "And [Douglas] hasn't even applied for a permit yet. So what's the big deal?"

"We have been doing that," Linda Douglas said. "We have been giving them all the reports that they have required."

They say the city keeps changing it's mind with requirements to reopen both inside and out.

For 21 years the restaurant has been using it's front parking lot to accommodate customers...but not anymore. That's because the city says they're too close to the right-of-way and it's a safety hazard being so close to the road.

"They're wanting to make the repair process as costly and as time consuming as they can possibly make it," John Douglas said.

Hawkins says the city isn't asking for anything special and that it is "trying desperately to cooperate to keep the business open."

Douglas says that isn't true.

"In my opinion, no they are not," he said.