Since two recent fires have destroyed downtown Bellefonte buildings, fire safety codes have become more of a concern. There are some newer fire code requirements and the borough is inspecting all commercial and residential spaces to see if they're up to code.
"They told us that we had to create a two foot clearance from our inventory to the ceiling," store owner Tom Engle said.
And that's just one item Engle says is on a long list of changes he needs to make to his store for it to meet fire code requirements.
"I think they should make store owners a little more aware. I was never aware of any of these codes at all the first four years I was here," he said.
Engle has owned Hunter's Warehouse on High Street in downtown Bellefonte for four years. He says this is the first time he's heard of any code inspection.
"I was just made aware of this on September 18th," Engle said. "I was made aware after four years of being here and given roughly ten days to correct all these items."
But borough officials say owners were notified of these changes back in 2011. In a statement to WTAJ, Building Code Official Russell Shuey says the borough made several attempts to notify owners and landlords of the new Bellefonte Safety and Maintenance Code, starting in January 2011. He says only a handful of owners attended the advertised public meetings.
"As far as the actual codes for fire safety, no," Faith Center Director Nicole Summers said. "We're spending our time concentrating on feeding hundreds of people, so that's foremost on our mind."
Nicole Summers' business is just one of 323 commercial spaces in the borough. So far, Shuey says 147 have been through initial inspections and 92 are completely done.
"I can understand that the borough is paying more attention to what's going on inside buildings and we're certainly happy to make changes," Summers said.
"Our inspectors and stuff, should get on their toes a little bit better and expedite getting all the stores in Bellefonte up to code specs," Engle said.
Shuey says these inspections will continue until every building and business has received the "all clear."