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Owners of Richmond’s haunted mansion will work with city, try to bring building up to code

November 18th, 2009 Posted in Opinion

By Dan Fawson

RICHMOND–The hotly debated future of the oldest living factory in the state of Utah remained undecided following Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

Originally a cheese factory, and most recently home to the Haunted Mansion, the 106-year-old building at 130 S. 500 West has long failed to comply with county building codes, thus preventing its owners from obtaining business licenses on the property.

Quentin Casperson, the building’s co-owner, appeared before the council seeking a conditional use permit in hopes of eventually running a cheese plant in the building. After much debate, Casperson ultimately agreed to schedule a workshop with the council and city officials in order to address concerns with the stability of the building, business viability of the property, and potential alternative businesses. Mayor Mike Hall requested Casperson submit to city manager Marlowe Adkins a list of possible dates and individuals he would want to attend the workshop.

“I’m thinking let’s work together, and jump through the hoops together, and we can do something that will benefit the community,” said Casperson, who was informed of a number of roadblocks standing in the way of establishing a business at the factory.

Councilman Brad Jensen laid out a laundry list of concerns about the property, most of which Casperson said his former business partner had not informed him of. Most notably, permits would need to be drawn to restore wiring to the building, water and sewer hookups would need to be established, and the building would need to have a pretreatment system to take care of both wastewater and waste product.

“We’re willing to jump through hoops,” Hall said, and after pausing, cautioned, “I think there’s going to be a lot of hoops.”

Hall believes the building has business potential, but stressed the financial concerns associated with Casperson’s proposed endeavor.

“I think there’s some viable businesses that could go down there,” Hall said, “but what they’re looking at right now is going to take a lot of money. They just need to look at all the costs involved, whether it’s the pretreatment, the water, the sewer hookups, and all that, and then make a business decision.”

Councilman Jeff Young was the first to suggest a workshop, citing the need for Casperson to fully understand the specific concerns shared by the council and city and county officials regarding the building. “Let us sit down so you guys can be on the same page (with the council),” Young said, believing such a setting would allow Casperson to “know exactly where we’re at, (and) why we’re there.”

Casperson emphasized the potential economic benefits the plant would have on the city, specifically the number of jobs it would provide. “Basically, you’ve got the power to do what the community wants,” Casperson said to the council. “We think it would be worthwhile.”

While the council expressed its support of any business endeavor which would be beneficial to the city, it emphasized that it is concerned first and foremost with the safety of the building.

“We’re going to make sure ordinances and standards are followed down there,” Hall said. “We’re not going to do anything down there that would put the city in jeopardy.”

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