PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) — Red tape is holding up the reopening of a family business in Pigeon Forge.
The unique gift shop, Tobias Uniques, had been in Gatlinburg for years, but the owners moved at the beginning of the year to its new location. Now, they say excessive regulations by the city of Pigeon Forge have delayed the store’s opening.
Tobie Peck, her daughter, Jessica, and her husband, Mark, are behind in opening their business. Their gift store filled with unique items is ready for customers. The walls are covered with new prints and paintings. But after moving everything from the previous location in Gatlinburg, Tobias Uniques remains closed at its new location in Pigeon Forge.
“We have people coming to the store all the time. ‘Aren’t you open?’ No, we can’t open yet,” said Tobie.
Another obstacle was having to get and pay for the architectural layout of their store. The design has been completed and is ready for the city inspector to examine.
“I’m hoping he will approve us and pass us so we can get our business license,” said Tobie.
The inspector told also told them their wood-frame walls violate City of Pigeon Forge code regulations
“There is wood all through this place. Our showcases are wood, our frames are wood, the floor is wood. But he is saying it can’t be combustible material,” said Mark.
“They say you can’t put up a wall without metal studs. We’ve had a number of businesses. We have never had to go through this,” said Tobie.
Former tenants put up a wood-framed door opening and wall in the back of the store, Mark believed it met code. However, to meet city regulations, Mark had to tear down the wall and put up new sheetrock and metal supports. The delay of installing this new wall cost his family-business time.
“I’m hoping he will approve us and pass us so we can get our business license,” said Jessica.
Tobie takes care of the store’s paperwork. She showed us different licenses that are required to open.
“It has nothing in writing about architectural drawings, it has nothing in writing about the inspection. There is nothing in writing that you have to have a building permit,” said Tobie about the information on licenses on the city’s website.
The Chief Building Director for Pigeon Forge said wood frames and architectural drawings are mentioned indirectly on the city’s building department website. There it says city regulations are part of the 2015 International Building Code, where, once it’s pulled up, you would have to hunt for the details somewhere in the 700-page manual.
“We just want to be open so we can pay our bills,” said Tobie.
Once a new business owner is directed to the international building code, the existing rules that apply to the city of Pigeon Forge can be found in the table of contents. However, Mark and Tobie Peck’s point is, that they believe the city needs to more clearly explain the steps that shop owners must take to open their stores in a timely manner.
They hope to open their doors to customers in the next few weeks.