It took a court order to get into the building, but when inspectors did, they shut down the East State Tasty Pizza for the foreseeable future.
Late last week, the Allen County building department filed a request with Allen County Superior Court, asking a judge to give them permission to inspect the property at 2729 E. State Blvd.
According to County Building Commissioner David Fuller, the request for what is called an inspection warrant is a rarity and is available to inspectors under the state’s unsafe building law.
When we suspect that a building is structurally unsafe, we go to the owner and try to get access to the building to try to decide whether it is or isn’t, Fuller said.
When the property owner refuses to comply and grant access, inspectors have no choice but to seek the assistance of the courts. When the warrants are granted, the time frame for inspection is usually just a few hours, Fuller said.
In October, a fire significantly damaged the second story of the building housing Tasty Pizza.
When building inspectors first examined the building, they found several roof rafters sagging, Fuller said.
An engineer noted that the roof structure must be repaired, and the building’s owner obtained a building permit to repair the property, Fuller said.
Even though there was water damage in the restaurant portion of the building, after a cleanup, owner Bruce Schollaert was able to reopen Tasty Pizza in early January.
But no confirmation ever came regarding the repairs to the sagging roof, and the county building inspectors wanted to have a look.
The contractor was never present, and the door to the second story was boarded over, preventing access, Fuller said.
Meetings with the owner at the property always ended unsuccessfully, with the owner bringing no tools to remove the board, forgetting the meeting time or other problems, Fuller said.
When the county threatened to get the inspection warrant, the owner removed the board. Behind the barrier, though, was a brand-new dead-bolted door to which he did not have the key, Fuller said.
After the warrant was obtained, the key appeared, he said.
But the inspection revealed no work has been done, and the county had no choice but to condemn the building and close the business until the roof is repaired.
The pizza shop is obviously closed, and the building’s second-story windows are boarded over while boards cover a hole in the front at the roofline facing East State Boulevard.
A phone number for Schollaert, listed as the company’s owner on the Indiana secretary of state’s website, could not be found Wednesday.