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David Alexander is trying to open a restaurant in downtown Moulton.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
David Alexander is trying to open a restaurant in downtown Moulton.

Moulton square restaurant holdup 'personal vendetta'?

By Kristen Bishop
kbishop@decaturdaily.com 340-2443

MOULTON — One and a half years and more than $100,000 later, Captain Dave's Steak and Seafood Restaurant on Moulton's square remains unopened.

City officials have refused to grant owner David Alexander a temporary certificate of occupancy pending submission of architect plans and final approval of an already constructed awning on the front of the building.

In a complaint filed Monday in Lawrence County Circuit Court, Alexander said the holdup is a "matter of personal vendetta." His attorney, Chris Malcom, has asked the judge to overrule the building inspector's decision.

Alexander requested the temporary certificate Thursday after building inspector Jodi Rogers-Buttram denied him a permanent one because of the unapproved awning facing the courthouse on Court Street. Rogers-Buttram said Alexander has yet to submit the architect drawings and must do so before opening the restaurant.

In his request for the temporary certificate, Alexander said he had contacted an architect concerning the wooden canopy and would provide the city with plans within 30 days. Rogers-Buttram denied his request the following day.

She did not say whether the awning was in violation of any codes and declined to comment further because of pending litigation.

Alexander said he had already discussed the canopy with city officials and that he doesn't understand why he can't open his restaurant. A document dated May 22 and signed by the building inspector shows that "the city" asked him to remove fencing planks that he had placed along the sidewalk but specifically "agreed to let him keep the cedar posts that are supporting the canopy."

Rogers-Buttram said Tuesday that the agreement was not formal approval.

"You could read that into it, but it all goes back to the fact that he has not submitted plans for the awning or gotten it approved by the city," she said.

This is not the first time Alexander has complained that city leaders were making him jump over hurdles to open the restaurant. He said they were selectively enforcing building codes in September after Rogers-Buttram issued a stop-work order on construction at the site.

At that time, the building inspector said confusion over newly adopted building codes was making it difficult on both ends. Though the city had issued Alexander a building permit, an architect had not stamped the plans he had submitted to the city.

Rogers-Buttram issued the stop-work order when Alexander continued to renovate the building despite warnings, she said.

According to Alexander's complaint, the building inspector signed off on Captain Dave's final inspection July 25. He said the building is not violating any codes or ordinances and he sees no reason why he couldn't operate his business under a temporary certificate of occupancy while his architect draws the plans.

"It has to be personal because we've met all the codes, and the only thing I can think of is that someone at city hall has a problem with me," said Alexander. "Jody says she's doing what she's told."

Circuit Judge Philip Reich hadn't ruled on the matter or scheduled a hearing Tuesday, but Alexander said he still hopes to open the restaurant by August 7.

Alexander, who also owns Sportslink and three other buildings on the square, said he plans to open Captain Dave's five days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., making it the only restaurant on the square serving dinner.

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