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Sandy nursery fights for survival after being told to shut down

Posted: 9:50 PM, Feb 12, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-12 23:55:38-05
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SANDY, Utah — A nursery is in a fight for survival after being told it must shut down.

Kuwahara Wholesale received notification from Sandy City that it cannot re-open to the public due to several code violations.

Alex Kuwahara, the owner of the business says the cost to make the improvements the city is demanding would be crushing.

“What they want us to spend is over one million dollars,” Kuwahara said. “We can’t even afford spending another penny on this.”

Kuwahara says this dispute has been going on for years and he hoped the city would be willing to work with him to find a solution.

“They said nope, you got to do this before you can ever open again,” Kuwahara said. “It’s just a disaster.”

FOX 13 obtained a letter from Sandy City dated October 17, 2019. It says Kuwahara Wholesale has been, “engaging in business without a license.”

The letter goes on to list nine other issues including violations of the fire code, structures built without a permit, and failure to obtain a site plan review.

The city also released a statement that said, “While Sandy City takes every step necessary to avoid shutting down a local business, we can no longer allow them to operate in good faith while there are so many safety and regulatory concerns for the public.”

The statement added, "We value Kuwahara and will continue to work with them to find solutions that will address the safety and regulatory requirements needed in order to allow them to reopen.”

Kuwahara is hoping the city will give him a little more time and make adjustments that would allow the business to remain open.

“Codes change, things like this change,” Kuwahara said. “This is our last fight. We don’t know what else to do.”

Kuwahara has support from many people in the community. His online petition received more than 5-thousand signatures in less than a day.

He plans to make his case to the Sandy City Council at their meeting next Tuesday evening at 5:30 and he hopes others will appear on his behalf.

The complete statement from Sandy City:

“We have received many calls and questions in regards to Kuwahara and want the public to understand why these steps were taken. Sandy City staff has worked exhaustively with the owners of Kuwahara Nursery over the last five years to help them meet all city and state requirements. Kuwahara failed to make the improvements to meet those requirements and added unpermitted structures and other facilities which do not meet safety and fire codes required by state law. While Sandy City takes every step necessary to avoid shutting down a local business, we can no longer allow them to operate in good faith while there are so many safety and regulatory concerns for the public. We value Kuwahara and will continue to work with them to find solutions that will address the safety and regulatory requirements needed in order to allow them to reopen.”