Citing dangers, county closes Port Richey flea market

- Effective immediately, Pasco's USA Flea Market has been shut down because of code violations. Until last weekend, it was open Fridays through Sundays, but now, vendors will no longer be allowed to operate from there.

"It's total disaster to my life," said Joseph Brzezicki, a vendor who's been selling goods at the USA Flea Market for six years. "Everybody strives to make a little dollar out of this place and the county does this to us."

Brzezicki says he didn't see this coming. Wednesday, vendors were told they have just days to get out. That's after an inspection turned up hundreds of local and state building, fire, and electrical code violations.

"Catastrophic failure was imminent so the market has to be closed," said Don Rosenthal, the assistant county administrator for development services.

In his 40 years of experience, code enforcement officer James Hunt says the flea market was one of the worst commercial building violations he's seen.

"Open panels, when you simply -- they're not locked -- open the door to the panel, you're going to be exposed to 20 wires," said Hunt. "If your child got away, opened that panel, it's over right there."

According to the county fire department, there were several major violations including total roof and wall failure and multiple wiring issues against fire code.

"You could always sense something wasn't right around here," said Kathy Walker of Main Street Bakery at the market. "A lot of people coming and going. No real investment made on the property, but everybody's had the same feeling."

Seventy vendors will be affected by the USA Flea Market's closing. But Pasco County says shutting down its operation was on behalf of both the vendors and patrons who go there.

"This is not an attack to shut down buildings that support businesses," said County Administrator Dan Biles. "We want businesses open, we want those places to do business, but we cannot allow them to be and survive and operate in a building that is unsafe for the public."

The county says it sent the notice to the building's owner. It also says the structure cannot remain on the property as-is.

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