Pasco County flea market shuts down due to violations

Posted at 10:24 AM, Jun 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-15 05:45:40-04

The Pasco County flea market was shut down after an investigation uncovered hundreds of fire, building and electrical violations that pose a significant threat to public safety.

The abrupt closing left vendors with only two weeks to clear out and left many of them wondering what they will do next.

"It devastates me, the one accomplishment I actually have was I built a business and the county took it away like that," vendor Beth Russ stated.

Russ has sold her wares in the Pasco County flea market for 30 years.

"What am I supposed to, where am I supposed to put all this stuff that I've had in here for people to buy? I don't have any storage facility, I can't afford another expense," she added.

Back in April, Pasco County Code Enforcement said that they discovered multiple health and life safety issues. 

Some of those safety issues include fire code violations such as inadequate sprinkler systems and fire alarms, electrical issues and non-permitted buildings.

"Prior to this, we were complaint based so if we didn't get a complaint we didn't go out and take a look at it but the commissioners have decided we need to be more proactive," Russ said.

Carmen Leone said this was the first day she learned about the issues. Now, after 19 years, she is packing up to leave.

"If they were protecting us, they would have gave us time to find someplace else and to have a sale or do whatever we had to do to prepare ourselves because now we're going to have creditors banging on our doors wanting to get paid and where do we come up with all this money?"

The last full Fire Marshall inspection at the flea market was in 2009. 

"This is the first time we've known that the place is not up to code, that the roof is coming down, that the wiring is at fault, no one has said anything, said Assistant County Administrator for Development Services Don Rosenthal.